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Stroke Diagnosis Now Faster and More Accurate Thanks to Easy-to-Use Technology

Stroke Prevention

Stroke is a life-threatening medical condition. Today, medical advancements have been more successful at treating stroke. Nonetheless, a huge bane on the process has been the time required for diagnosis. Currently, it takes as long as three hours.

That is not the only limiting factor however. Contemporary diagnosis methods require skilled technicians and careful laboratory work.

A team of researchers at Cornell’s Baker Institute for Animal Health has developed a technology that uses very little blood (about a pinch size) and takes less than 10 minutes to receive accurate results.

Even better, the technology can be adapted to diagnose other conditions in humans and animals. Likely candidates are some forms of dementia, concussion (traumatic brain injury), and some form of heart disease and cancer.

Findings of the study have been published in the journal PLOS ONE. The lead author of the study, Roy Cohen, believes the main draw of the technology is that it is easy to use and can be used virtually anywhere like at a patient’s bedside.

The technology owes its remarkable accuracy and speed to being able to use enzymes attached to nanoparticles to detect specific blood-borne biomarkers in minute minutes. To put simply, the technology detects a substance in the blood that increases in quantity when stroke occurs, then converts the detection to light.

The substance detected in stroke is the biomarker Neuron-Specific Enolase (NSE). Its concentration in the blood increases when a victim suffers from stroke or other conditions. When the technology detects the substance in sufficient quantity consistent with the quantity in stroke victims, it displays light.

To increase the accuracy of the technology, the technology amplifies the signal from the NSE. This way, even with a drop of blood barely big enough to moisten your fingertip, the technology can still use the minute quantities of NSE to give enough light for detection.

The team is now looking to collaborate with a private company to develop a technique that will be used for stroke detecting in clinical testing and will eventually make its way to hospitals.

In the meantime, the team is experimenting the technology to detect traumatic brain injury among mixed martial arts athletes. Initial results have been promising. Similar success will mean the actualization of a flexible detection system for multiple different biomarkers with just one readout—light.

The State University of New York Health Research Foundation, the New York State Centers for Advanced Technology (CAT), a postdoctoral fellowship, and the National Institutes of Health Pioneer Award collectively funded the research.

About the author

Dean Smith