Sunday, July 31, 2011

Work on the Star Treck Medical Scanner Progesses

Glucose Meter Can Detect Cocaine, Uranium in Blood
Researchers have shown that an off-the-shelf glucose meter can be used to test blood samples for a variety of substances, including cocaine, the pathogen-related protein interferon, the biochemical adenosine, and traces of uranium. The ability to measure such medically important targets without expensive lab testing could be particularly vital in developing countries.

The researchers modified the chemistry of blood samples in order to use glucose concentration as a proxy for detecting the concentration of these substances. The research was conducted by Yu Xiang and Yi Lu at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

"There's an elegant simplicity to their repurposing," says Kevin Plaxco, professor of biochemistry at the University of California, Santa Barbara. "The development of a general sensing platform with the convenience and form-factor of the home glucose meter is the holy grail of biosensor research," he says.
It still requires a blood sample, unlike the Star Trek scanner.  It's a remarkable example of how technology can revolutionize medicine, given the opportunity.  Almost all human metabolism can be linked to glucose, which is a fundamental energy source for a variety of purposes. Even if you don't eat any sugar, your body will make it from other sources so it can feed the brain and other tissues that require glucose as an energy source.  This device works by tying the effect of some substance to glucose metabolism.  The trick is to find and exploit the link to glucose.

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