Scientists at Berkeley Lab helped develop a microchip to quickly determine if someone has been exposed to hazardous ionizing radiation.
First, its unique chip has a nanosensor array that measures the concentration of protein after radiation exposure.
Although still in the development stage, the technology may cause a handheld device to "light up" if a person needs medical attention, involving the aftermath of radiation accidents. Tests on mice for the first time have found that the technique requires only one drop of blood, and the radiation dose is measured in minutes, resulting in seven days of exposure.
The technology was developed jointly by scientists from Berkeley Lab and Stanford University, the Institute of Radiobiology, Armed Forces, University of California, Davis School of Medicine, and the researchers of the Center for Methodological Research at the Methodist Hospital. Scientists reported that their research was recently published in a paper in a journal's scientific report.
"More work needs to be done, but it may lead to rapid diversion of the chip after a possible radiation exposure to people in a much-needed manner," said Andy Wyrobek, Berkeley Laboratory Life Sciences Department. He led a team that developed a panel of radiation-sensitive blood protein multi-organisms.
"Our goal is to give medical personnel the way to identify people who need immediate treatment. "They also need to determine the prospects of many more people who receive the dose and do not need medical attention," Wyrobek said.
At present, the most common method to measure radiation exposure is a blood assay, called dicentric chromosome detection, to track chromosome changes after exposure. Another way is to look at the onset of somatic symptoms. But these methods take a few days to provide results, and it is too late to identify those who would benefit from direct treatment.
New, faster ways to thank scientists for their cooperation from radiobiology, biostatistics, and engineering disciplines.
In the past few years, Wyrobek and colleagues at the Life Sciences Department of Berkeley Laboratories explored signatures of biochemical radiation doses. They have discovered more than 250 proteins that change after exposure. These proteins can serve as biomarkers to show whether a person has been exposed to radiation or not. What has always been lacking is a platform to use these biomarkers.
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