Magazine article USA TODAY

Barcode Chip Faster and Cheaper

Magazine article USA TODAY

Barcode Chip Faster and Cheaper

Article excerpt

A "barcode chip" developed by researchers at the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, promises to revolutionize diagnostic medical testing. In less than 10 minutes, and using just a pinprick's worth of blood, the chip can measure the concentrations of dozens of proteins, including those that herald the presence of diseases like cancer and heart disease.

The device, known as the Integrated Blood-Barcode Chip, or IBBC, is about the size of a microscope slide and made out of a glass substrate covered with silicone rubber. The chip offers a significant improvement over the cost and speed of standard laboratory tests to analyze proteins in the blood. In traditional tests, one or more vials of blood are removed from a patient's arm and taken to a laboratory, where the blood is centrifuged to separate whole blood cells from plasma. The plasma then is assayed for specific proteins.

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"The process is labor intensive and, even if the person doing the testing hurries, the test will still take a few hours to complete," declares James Heath, professor of chemistry. …

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