If there were a distinction one could earn for practicing smart medicine on a shoestring, a UT grad student would be high in the running. Using a aluminum foil, gelatin, milk protein, and a cheap LED light--items that collectively sell for under a buck--he's created a fast, one-hour test for acute pancreatitis.
This test is way faster than existing diagnostics for acute pancreatitis, a condition in which sudden inflammation of the pancreas can cause a good deal of pain, fever, shock, and occasionally death. The sensor is basically a battery with a two-tiered, enzyme selective switch. To test for acute pancreatitis, a bit of blood extract is dropped on a layer of gelatin and milk protein. If there's enough trypsin--an enzyme that exists in elevated levels in patients with the condition--it eats right through the gelatin/protein mix.
At this point a drop of sodium hydroxide is added. If the trypsin has truly eaten through the gelatin, the sodium hydroxide is exposed to a layer of foil below, where it will begin eating a hole. With both the gelatin and the foil dissolved, a circuit is able to form between an iron salt at the cathode and a magnesium anode, lighting up the LED. If the LED lights up in less than an hour, the patient has acute pancreatitis.
"We've turned Reynold's Wrap, Jell-O and milk into a way to look for organ failure," Brian Zaccheo, the UT grad student behind the sensor, told Texas Science. Perhaps best of all, it's the size of a quarter, costs less than a dollar, and requires no external electricity source (in fact, it is a battery). That means it could go virtually anywhere, providing a cheap means of diagnosing acute pancreatitis in the developing world or in out-of-the-way locales.
Maybe I missed something, but what's the purpose of the milk protein? Doe the trypsin bind to it before it can eat through the gelatin or something?
Still, this is very innovative! This is what invention is all about: using the understanding of the properties of things to create better things from them xD .
-IMP ;) :)
After FDA and AMA and Lawyers and such the cost is sure to be in the millions.
The tripsin will eat the protein.
If MacGuyver were a doctor...
This is seriously genius thinking. I mean, the existing diagnostics probably gave us the information we need on *what* to look for. This is such an excellent example of improving *how* we look for it.