A team of researchers have managed to develop an inexpensive, microchip-based test for diagnosing type-1 diabetes that could improve patient care and help doctors better understand the disease.
Described in a paper published on July 13 in Nature Medicine, the test relies on nanotechnology to detect type-1 diabetes outside hospital settings. The technology can distinguish between the two main forms of diabetes mellitus, both of which are characterized by high blood-sugar levels but have different causes and treatments. Until now, making this distinction has required a slow, expensive test available only in sophisticated health-care settings. The researchers are seeking an FDA approval of the device.
“With the new test, not only do we anticipate being able to diagnose diabetes more efficiently and more broadly, we will also understand diabetes better – both the natural history and how new therapies impact the body,” said Brian Feldman, MD, PhD, assistant professor of pediatric endocrinology and the Bechtel Endowed Faculty Scholar in Pediatric Translational Medicine.
Unlike the old/current, expensive test – the new, microchip-based solution uses no radioactivity, and is able to produce results in minutes, requiring minimal training to use. What’s more, the test can be done with blood from a finger prick. And each chip, expected to cost about $20 to produce, can be used for upward of 15 tests.
The microchip-based solution uses no radioactivity, and is able to produce results in minutes, requiring minimal training to use.Relying on fluorescence-based method for detecting the antibodies, the system uses base made out of glass plates that is coated with an array of nanoparticle-sized islands of gold, which intensify the fluorescent signal to enable reliable antibody detection.
Stanford University and the researchers have filed for a patent on the microchip, and the next step is to launch a startup company to bring the technology to market.
Bo Zhang, a graduate student in chemistry, and Rajiv Kumar, MD, clinical assistant professor of pediatric endocrinology and diabetes, are lead authors of the paper. Another Stanford co-author is Hongjie Dai, PhD, professor of chemistry. Feldman and Dai are members of Stanford’s Child Health Research Institute.