July 15, 2014
2 min read

Nanotech microchip could offer convenient, less costly diabetes diagnosis

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A new hand-held test that uses nanotechnology to distinguish between the two main forms of diabetes could make diagnosing the conditions faster, easier and less costly, and all outside of clinical settings, according to a report published in Nature Medicine.

Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine in California developed a portable plasmonic gold microchip capable of finding islet cell-targeting antibodies through near-infrared florescence-enhanced detection, for which they plan to seek FDA approval.

“The hope is to match sensitivity and specificity of the currently used radioimmunoassay, but do it more rapidly and more cost effectively, and therefore enable broader access to this important diagnostic test, as well as continue to support the movement of monitoring autoantibodies in patients who have not yet been diagnosed with diabetes,” Brian Feldman, MD, PhD, assistant professor of pediatric endocrinology and the Bechtel Endowed Faculty Scholar in Pediatric Translational Medicine, told Endocrine Today.

Developed by Feldman and colleagues, the microchip-based test does not use radioactivity, unlike standard detection, and produces results in minutes rather than days, according to a press release from the institution.

Minimal training is required to conduct the test compared with highly trained lab staff, according to the release, and a finger prick would produce enough blood for the chip test compared with a lab-based draw. Each microchip would cost approximately $20 and could be used for more than 15 tests.

With an increasing number of individuals being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes as adults and the obesity epidemic resulting in more children receiving type 2 diagnoses, Feldman said timely diagnosis is essential.

“The immediacy is to try and address different technological hurdles interfering with our ability to provide patients with the most efficient and effective care,” Feldman said. “Patients who come in with new-onset diabetes have … an expanding number of treatment options. The more rapidly we can understand which type of diabetes, the better we can cater these options to each individual.”

The researchers are in the very early stages of seeking FDA approval, Feldman said, with the process currently at a halt until the exact prototype of the device is set. 

“We’re taking a short amount of extra time to make sure we have optimized the platform to make sure it’s exactly the way we want it to exist when it translates to the clinic,” Feldman said. — by Allegra Tiver

For more information:
Feldman can be reached at Stanford School of Medicine, Medicine Specialties Clinic, 730 Welch Road, 2nd Floor, Palo Alto, CA 94304; email: feldman@stanford.edu.

Disclosure: Stanford University and the study researchers filed patents with the US Patent and Trademark Office, and via the Patent Cooperation Treaty, for the technology and the use of the technology to detect islet cell-targeting autoantibodies.