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Development of portable infectious disease detector

e concentrations of the key chemicals that cells consume and excrete--oxygen, glucose and lactic acid--with enough sensitivity to monitor the health of a few thousand cells confined in a small volume. (For more detail see "New device can help defend against novel biological agents" at [http://exploration.vanderbilt.edu/news/news_microphys.htm].) Under the leadership of Franz Baudenbacher, assistant professor of biomedical engineering and physics, Vanderbilt researchers have further miniaturized this sensor technology to record rapid changes in the metabolism and signaling of individual cells. To handle such small numbers of cells, they have adapted a method for molding micro-channels and valves into a material similar to that used in soft contact lenses. This has given them the capability to capture, manipulate, grow and study single living cells in extraordinarily small containers--volumes that are barely larger than the cells themselves. Most sensors that have been developed to identify toxic agents are single purpose. That is, they can identify the presence of a single toxin, or a limited number of closely related toxins. The ability to monitor the health of small groups of cells, however, makes it possible to detect the presence of unknown poisons as long as they affect cell metabolism. Furthermore, by examining the impact that an unknown agent has on different cell types--such as heart, lung, nerve, skin, etc.--this approach also can rapidly provide critical insights into its mode of action. "Pria has an outstanding understanding of the clinical and diagnostic device market and the ability to rapidly prototype optical and microfluidics devices," says Wikswo, "but it is difficult for the company to survey large numbers of possible applications. Yet, here at the university, searching for new applications is one of the things that we do best." The origin of the collaboration is an example of the power of serendipity. It started when David Schaffer, a VIIBRE studen
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Source:Eurekalert


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