A test that measures the health of cells could be developed to diagnose and monitor diseases including degenerative illnesses and cancer.
Scientists led by Dr Colin Campbell, Division of Pathway Medicine & School of Chemistry, University of Edinburgh, have created a sensor that measures tiny electronic signals in cells that help keep the cell functioning and are a key indication of health.
These signals occur routinely to control everyday processes such as cell maintenance. When they are irregular, it can indicate that cells have been damaged by inflammation, toxicity, or disease.
Researchers at the University of Edinburgh have mounted a chemical sensor on a tiny gold platform that can be inserted harmlessly into cells. The sensor can be scanned with a laser to give a measure of electrical activity in the cell, indicating whether it is healthy or not.
The device could be used to monitor patient health. It may also be useful in drug development by giving insight into how cells respond to disease or therapy.
Researchers say their device improves on existing techniques, as it has greater sensitivity, better accuracy, and does not interfere with the cell's functioning.
Electronic activity in cells is strictly controlled and normally runs like clockwork - so when it goes wrong, it can be a sign of disease. Our device offers a safe, effective method to test the health of cells.
Dr Colin Campbell
EaStCHEM Fellow, School of Chemistry & Division of Pathway Medicine
For more information please contact Colin Campbell, 0131 651 3049; firstname.lastname@example.org
This article was published on Jan 26, 2012