Take a trip to your neighborhood pharmacy and you'll not only find pregnancy tests on the shelves, but also home drug tests and nicotine testing kits, among others. It seems that home medical tests are increasingly popular and receiving results in the privacy of your own home is a preferred method for many.
One scientist envisions a future where you can take an at home test for cancer and receive an almost instantaneous result. A small liquid sensor is being developed by Jae Kwon, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Missouri, that can detect diseases, including breast and prostate cancers.
Most diseases are not easily traced within liquid but Kwon has devised a technique which uses real-time 'acoustic resonant sensors' (ARS) which will enable detecting a disease in bodily fluid much easier.
The sensor uses revolutionary technology called micro/nanoelectromechanical systems (M/NEMS) - combining electrical and mechanical elements on the miniscule nanoscale - to detect diseases found in bodily fluid, like blood and urine. This advance in technology furthers the miniaturization of medical devices like sensors.
The sensor and the M/NEMS are both so small (the sensor is smaller than a human hair) that they do not require any large equipment or data reading and only use very small circuits. They could potentially be used as a portable independent method of screening and integrated into a marketable home testing kit.
“In a liquid environment, most sensors experience a significant loss of signal quality, but by using highly sensitive, low-signal loss acoustic resonant sensors in a liquid, these substances can be effectively and quickly detected – a brand-new concept that will result in a noninvasive approach for breast cancer detection,” explains Kwon.
“Our ultimate goal is to produce a device that will simply and quickly diagnose multiple specific diseases, and eventually be used to create 'point of care' systems, which are services provided to patients at their bedsides,” continued Kwon.