Hand-held detector aims to diagnose disease

The CliniHub could one day allow GPs to test for breast cancer – but will it ever replace mammograms? (Image: Cambridge Consultants)

Family doctors could instantly detect a raft of diseases – from breast cancer to MRSA – using a cheap hand-held device being developed by the UK-based R&D company Cambridge Consultants.

The CliniHub, now in its early stages of development in partnership with XenBio Fluidics of San Diego, California, centres on a cheap detector that senses a telltale fluorescent glow from a raft of disease markers that the developers say will be the subject of patent applications.

Credit-card-sized sample trays inserted in a modem-sized reader hold antibody-coated polystyrene beads containing a fluorescent label. The antibodies interact with specific disease markers, causing the beads to clump together, quickly producing a strong red fluorescence under UV light from an LED. That glow is picked up by a built-in light detector based on low-cost photodiode technology.

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