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Purdue researchers develop inexpensive blood test to detect biomarkers of early-stage disease

By Jesse Schwartz
Published: November 29th, 2017

Researchers at Purdue University have developed a way to identify biological markers in small amounts of blood that could be used for early-stage detection of a wide range of diseases, infections and other medical conditions.

Developed by Jeffrey Rhoads, George Chiu and Erich Nauman, the technology uses small vibrating sensors than can detect the biomarkers using just a drop or two of blood, allowing for a quick and inexpensive process to detect disease, illness or trauma.

“The goal here is to find the disease so early that you can treat it without invasive surgery,” says Rhoads. “Detecting biomarkers is like trying to find a handful of needles in a large haystack. So we devised a method that divided the large haystack into smaller haystacks. Instead of having a single sensor, it makes more sense to have an array of sensors and do statistical-based detection.”

One of the technology’s first applications could be in the early detection of brain trauma in athletes, namely high school football and soccer players. Researchers have learned that concussions are typically the result of multiple injuries over time rather than one impact, and the new test from Purdue could detect signs of brain trauma before it becomes symptomatic.

The test could also be used to detect Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. “You can basically look for general neurodegeneration, not just in athletes,” says Nauman. “There’s a whole host of diseases and different conditions where, if you could find these things in small quantities early on and just make it part of a standard workup, you could decrease health care costs greatly.”

The researchers have filed a patent application for the test through the Purdue Research Foundation’s Office of Technology Commercialization.

Source: Purdue Research Foundation

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