Nanoscale medical detection close to practical use

Kevin Bullis writes in Technology Review about a nanotech-based medical tool that looks very promising. The most deadly disease in the U.S. isn’t cancer or AIDS, it’s heart disease:

Each year 100,000 patients complaining of heart attack-like symptoms are sent home without treatment because current methods cannot diagnose some heart attacks, Moffitt says. Of these people, 20 percent die within a month, he says. And the rest have a much greater risk of dying from a heart attack in the coming year. Moffitt says that by detecting concentrations a thousand times lower that current methods of a protein released in the body during a heart attack, the Nanosphere technology may help doctors diagnose and treat these attacks.

It may also help tackle another dreaded disease, Alzheimer’s:

Moffitt says the technology has already been used to detect in a blood sample a protein thought to be associated with early-stage Alzheimer’s in the blood. “If this marker proves out to be indicative of the pathway of Alzheimer’s, then we will have developed a simple blood test for Alzheimer’s,” he says. And, according to him, they should know one way or the other within two years.

Let’s hope these new tools are in use before the majority of baby boomers enters old age. —Christine

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