Microchip a Major Improvement in Diagnosing Type 1 Diabetes

Researchers from Stanford University have introduced a handheld microchip that uses nanotechnology to test for type 1 diabetes. The chip, which displays high sensitivity and specificity for type 1 diabetes, may also discover new biomarkers for the disease, and could substantially cut down on time and cost in terms of making a diabetes diagnosis.

Currently, type 1 diabetes diagnosis is done with a radioimmunoassay lab method, which uses radioactive materials to find auto-antibodies in the blood. Throw in the highly-trained staff needed to carry out the test and interpret the results, and you're looking at a test that costs several hundred dollars—not to mention the vial of drawn blood.

The Stanford microchip does not require radioactive materials, demands only minimal training from staff, and produces results in minutes. On top of that, the same chip can be used for at least 15 different tests.

And instead of a vial of drawn blood, the microchip needs no more than the amount provided by pricking the finger.

Instead of radiation, the chip uses plasmonic gold, which creates "near-infrared fluorescence-enhanced detection" of the antibodies.

"With the new test, not only do we anticipate being able to diagnose diabetes more efficiently and more broadly," said senior author Brian Feldman, assistant professor of pediatric endocrinology at the Stanford School of Medicine, "we will also understand diabetes better—both the natural history and how new therapies impact the body."

Researchers reported their work in the most recent issue of the journal Nature Medicine.

Photo: AZO Nano, SF Gate

Dr. Brian Feldman is a member of the team that invented the microchip.