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Cornell University Scientists Develop Stroke-Detecting Device

December 1, 2015
by Heather Landi
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Scientists at Cornell University’s Baker Institute for Animal Health have developed a device that helps diagnose stroke in less than ten minutes, according a study published in journal Plus ONE.

According to the study, the device uses a drop of blood and then detects biomarkers through enzymes that attach to nanoparticles and that detection is converted into light.

"Three quarters of stroke patients suffer from ischemic stroke - a blockage of a blood vessel in the brain. In those cases, time is of the essence, because there is a good drug available, but for a successful outcome it has to be given within three or four hours after the onset of symptoms," Ray Cohen, the study’s lead author and a research scientist at the Baker Institute, said in a statement. "By the time someone identifies the symptoms, gets to the hospital, and sits in the emergency room you don't have much time to obtain the full benefit of this drug." Enhancing the speed of diagnosis could save many people from suffering lasting effects of ischemic stroke, he says.

To demonstrate the effectiveness of this new approach, the researchers focused on the biomarker neuron-specific enolase (NSE), a substance found in higher concentrations in the blood of victims of stroke and other conditions. By measuring the amount of light produced from various samples, Cohen and his colleagues can determine the concentration of NSE in the sample, according to the study press release. At each step of the way, the signal from the NSE is amplified, so even minute quantities give off enough light for detection.

Cohen said the technology represents the successful pairing of two big goals in medical diagnostics -- small size and simplicity.

Going forward, the scientist will collaborate with a private company to develop the stroke-detecting technique for clinical testing and eventually make it available for use in hospitals. But he's also excited to expand the system to diagnose other conditions.

The research was funded by grants from the New York State Centers for Advanced Technology (CAT), the State University of New York Health Research Foundation, and the National Institutes of Health Pioneer Award and a post-doctoral fellowship.  


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