Saturday, December 10, 2011

Discovering Sepsis On the Spot

When a doctor suspects that a patient is suffering from blood poisoning, they must draw a blood sample and then send it to a central laboratory for testing. Unfortunately this takes up time and this time could cost the patient his or her life. With the recent development of a biochip though, this will not be a problem in the future. The biochip, which makes it possible to analyze blood right there in the hospital and have results within twenty minutes, was developed by scientists at the Fraunhofer Institute for Physical Measurement Techniques IPM in Freiburg.

The biochip requires a "fully automatic deceive to carry out all the examination steps". In the device red blood cells are separated from the blood and the plasma that remains is guided onto the biochip. Our immune systems produce certain proteins when we suffer from sepsis and there are antibodies on the chip that fit these proteins, so that if these proteins are are in fact present in the blood, the antibodies fish them out and bind them to the chip. A solution containing the appropriate antibodies, which have been marked with a fluorescent dye, is then used to rune the chip. If the patient has blood poisoning the chip lights up and if the patient is healthy the chip stays dark. In the future this biochip will be used to test for different proteins at the same time in one cycle.


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