The Ikerlan-IK4 and Gaiker-IK4 Technological Centre have patented a device which is capable of the rapid and effective diagnosis of infectious diseases caused by various bacteria, notable amongst which are Salmonella, Campylobacter and Listeria, the causal agents of most gastroenteritis cases due to food poisoning, as well as of other symptomatologies associated with this condition. With the aim of extending the uses of the device in the field of health, experts at these technological centres are currently researching their application for the detection and treatment of colorectal cancer.
The device incorporates advances in micro-nanotechnologies whereby, in a miniaturised laboratory mode, the required reagents are mixed with a sample of the patient. Thanks to miniaturisation, the result of the analysis is obtained in a matter of minutes – very advantageous in providing a rapid and precise diagnosis and one without the need of a laboratory infrastructure which, in turn, enables a speedy start to treatment. Reading of the device will be simple based, as it is, on luminous indicators that tell if the result is positive or negative, the identification corresponding to the presence of specific genetic sequences of the microbian agents causing the pathology or of the cancer patient.
Future applications that this microchip could be used for are of great importance, as they can provide genetic diagnosis tools for doctors to carry out early diagnoses of diseases associated with our genetic inheritance or with the malfunctioning of the mechanisms for the translation of our genetic code such as, possibly, the degenerative pathologies of Parkinsons and Alzheimer, amongst others, or of metabolic disorders. Another field of application of great interest is in the forensic field, medical tests for paternity or even prenatal diagnosis.
In this way, Ikerlan-IK4 and Gaiker-IK4 researchers have focused on colorectal cancer in order to achieve, within a period of three years, a reliable method of detection and prognosis of the stage of the disease This minilaboratory will speedily indicate if the patient is carrying this disease and, if affirmative, at which stage it is, thus enabling appropriate and effective treatment. But, moreover, it will be able to determine if there is a tendency to have this illness and so facilitate the adoption of preventive measures to avoid the disease in the first place.
The existence of minilaboratories will also mean important advances in enhancing quality within the health system, given that hospital admissions will be reduced, the time spent in admission will be cut as will costs in diagnosis. The application of this device will have a significant effect on preventive and health clinic medical care, due to its accessibility in terms of cost and portability. This last point is of considerable interest to developing and less favoured countries, where the authorities will have at their disposal effective tools for the prevention and control of infectious diseases.
Note: This article has been adapted from a news release issued by Elhuyar Fundazioa.