|nanosensors: the future of diagnostic medicine?|
date：2016-01-21 editor: administrator view：136
speeding up the process of diagnosis is a major focus of research. recent studies reported on by medical news today include one study that found a new blood test could predict a woman's risk of breast cancer recurrence almost 8 months before visible signs appeared.
another study published in august 2015 identified a natural compound found in the breath as a biomarker of early-stage cirrhosis of the liver. this biomarker could one day form the basis of a breath test to diagnose this disease.
one problem that arises with diagnosing medical conditions is that the symptoms of some conditions only arise after a certain amount of time. by the time these symptoms come to the surface, the underlying condition will have progressed to a stage at which its treatment is much more complicated than it would have been had the problem been discovered earlier.
the most obvious example of this problem would be cancers such as pancreatic cancer that often do not cause any signs or symptoms during their early stages, only causing symptoms once the cancer has spread to other parts of the body.
but this problem is a common one. another example would be when an implant - a hip implant, for example - becomes infected or inflammation causes prohibitive scar tissue to form. by the time it becomes apparent that a hip implant has become infected, however, the only solution is to remove the implant and insert a new one.
this week, mnt spoke to thomas webster, a professor and chair of the department of chemical engineering at northeastern university in boston, ma, about his team's current work in dealing with this issue.
"what we quickly realized in our medical care system today is that a lot of what we do is very reactionary," he said.
in this spotlight, we take a look at how prof. webster and his colleagues are looking to move away from a reactionary model of health care with the development of nanosensors - a new form of technology that will be able to monitor the build-up of bacteria on implants and warn clinicians when treatment is required before the problem escalates.
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