This Tiny, Inexpensive Microchip Can Diagnose Diabetes Instantaneously

Stanford researchers recently published work on a small microchip they've developed that scans for diabetes in a fraction of the time of current tests. Additionally, their test is reusable for upwards of 15 patients, can be performed on site, and is more accurate in differentiating the biomarkers that distinguish type 1 and type 2 diabetes. In other words, it's a major milestone in diabetes research.

The chip itself only costs about $20 and is roughly the size of a glass slide. Its foundation lies on "an array of nanoparticle-sized islands of gold, which intensify the fluorescent signal, enabling reliable antibody detection." Auto-antibodies, which are responsible for attacking the healthy tissues that produce insulin, are found in type 1 diabetes but not in type 2. With a highly sensitive fluorescent detector, these antibodies are much more apparent and easier to recognize.

Patients are often misdiagnosed when it comes to diabetes, especially when currently there is no standardized testing method but rather a flurry of tests that can produce varying and sometimes contradictory results. Patients can also use the new microchip to track their auto-antibody levels before symptoms even begin, thus eradicating late-onset diabetes.

A test with immediate results is not only desirable to those at risk of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes, but also for developing nations whose labs and screening centers are underfunded and ill-equipped for diagnosis. Stanford's development team has applied for a patent and is currently seeking approval from the FDA. They hope to debut the technology soon. [via MIT Technology Review]