Health chip to provide instant diagnoses

The new "health chip" looks like a credit card and contains a complete lab.

London: Your family doctor will no longer have to send blood or cancer cell samples to the lab. A little chip will give him test results on the spot.
A blood sample today needs to be submitted to a central lab for analysis, and weeks may pass before results are provided. The same thing happens when women are checked for cervical cancer by taking a cell scrape from the cervix.

The samples are then sent off and studied under the microscope. Diagnostic error rates can be high when abnormal cell appearance is determined by even experienced eyes, according to a SINTEF statement.

The EU`s MicroActive project has developed an integrated system based on microtechnology and biotechnology that will enable a number of conditions to be diagnosed automatically in the doctor`s own office.

The new "health chip" looks like a credit card and contains a complete lab. SINTEF has coordinated the project, whose other members include universities, hospitals and research institutes from Germany and Ireland.

The chip is engraved with a number of very narrow channels that contain chemicals and enzymes in the correct proportions for each individual analysis. When the patient`s sample has been drawn into the channels, these reagants are mixed.

"The health chip can analyse your blood or cells for eight different diseases," say Liv Furuberg and Michal Mielnik of SINTEF.