A team of scientists has developed a microarray detector that uses a tiny blood sample to produce results in less than 30 minutes. Current sepsis diagnosis techniques can take hours or even days to produce the results and diagnosis.
Programmed to detect proteins and E. coli, one of the deadly bacteria that can cause the human body to go into septic shock, the detector then uses light to look for specific biomarkers that are as small as a few nanometers in size.
For sepsis diagnosis, the rapid microarray detector (see how microlens arrays are manufactured using diamond turning) looks at a small blood sample taken from a thumb or forefinger. The patient’s blood sample is then separated in a centrifuge so that a clinician can examine the plasma, the part of the blood sample where all the proteins are contained.
The sepsis detector uses photonics to make a clear and accurate diagnosis. The plasma sample flows over a microarray, a collection of tiny spots containing specific antibodies on a nanostructured gold slide. Two light beams are then shone through the full microarray, with one of them passing through the sample, while the other one goes through the clear part of the slide, acting as a reference. The beams passing through the biomarker and the clear regions on the slide are then checked for any changes in intensity.