Instant Disease Diagnosis

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Instant Disease Diagnosis

The challenge of discovering what's wrong with a patient has confounded doctors for ages.  In fact, for most of the history of medicine, diagnosis has been more of an art than a true science, combining skill, experience, and intuition. 

That can have serious, and often fatal, consequences.  Despite the best intentions, doctors often make mistakes when the results of diagnostic tests call for them to use their judgment.  According to The New York Times,1 a research study based on data from autopsies reached the mind-boggling conclusion that doctors seriously misdiagnose life-threatening illnesses in one out of every five cases.  That means that millions of patients are not being treated for the diseases they have.

In fact, even though today's doctors often use such modern technologies as magnetic resonance imaging and endoscopy, the Journal of the American Medical Association2 reports that the percentage of faulty diagnoses has not improved since the 1930s.

But now, that tragic situation is about to change:  A new era of diagnostics is dawning, and it involves a wide range of innovative technologies that will make diagnosing a disease as easy as using a home pregnancy test kit.  In some cases, it will even be as easy as breathing.

Let's take a look at several new technologies that promise to revolutionize disease detection and save countless lives.

According to the journal Angewandte Chemie,3 scientists at the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology in Singapore have developed a chip that provides fast genetic analysis using magnetic nanoparticles.  It can diagnose diseases in minutes from a single drop of blood taken with a pinprick.

The journal Cancer Research4 reports on another device that uses a urine sample to screen for prostate cancer far more accurately than the conventional PSA blood test currently does.  It uses biomarkers and will eventually be accurate enough to eliminate the need for biopsies. 

At the annual meeting of the American Association for Dental Research in Dallas, Texas, researchers introduced another diagnostic tool, which is based on a sample of saliva.5  The technology maps proteins and messenger RNA to detect cancer.  While now being used for oral cancer, it is being refined to detect pancreatic cancer, breast cancer, lung cancer, ovarian cancer, diabetes, and even Alzheimer's disease...

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