Scientists at Cornell University in the US have developed a device that can diagnose stroke in less than ten minutes using just a drop of blood.
Currently the process can take many hours, and requires the work of specially trained technicians.
The researchers behind the device say that it could eventually be used to diagnose other conditions such as concussion, cancer and dementia.
The study, which appears in the November issue of the journal PLOS ONE, was led by Roy Cohen, a research scientist at Cornell University. He says the technology combines small size and simplicity, meaning that it could allow testing to be carried out at a patient’s bedside.
He said: ‘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.
‘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.’
The device works by using enzymes attached to nanoparticles to detect the biomarker neuron-specific enolase in the blood, which only appears in high concentrations in stroke victims. The technology then converts that detection into light.
The team that developed the technology is hoping to collaborate with a private company to develop the technique, and eventually make it available commercially.