Will Carbon Nanotubes Make Conventional Blood Tests Obsolete?

The blood reveals a tremendous amount of information about the body. It’s no wonder why that’s usually the first place your doctor will turn to determine just how well your body is functioning.

However, the process of completing a blood test involves some skill and a considerable quantity of materials. What if it were possible to gather specific information from the body by unitizing sensors implanted directly within the body? That may be possible through carbon nanotubes.

Blood_donationImage Source: Wikimedia

Instant Insight Inside the Body
Recently presented at a meeting of the American Chemical Society in Boston, new research has shown how tiny diagnostic sensors made from carbon nanotubes and polymers could be used to detect a variety of changing conditions within the body.

The resulting information could then be rapidly delivered to doctors and result in more precise and prompt care of a patient.

The new research has determined that the nanotube sensors can be safely implanted under the skin or within the bloodstream to measure changes in a range of biological compounds, such as presence of inflammation, fluctuation in insulin, nitric oxide, and certain clotting factors.

The Challenges Of Diagnostic Implants
The polymers used to create the carbon nanotube sensors are able to sense specific conditions down to the molecule. In tests in laboratory mice, the sensors successfully emitted a continuous signal and were not broken down by the body, nor did they cause any side effects for 400 days.

This duration is significant, as the development of long term diagnostic implants have come with a range of challenges.

The body will often treat the foreign object as biological material to be recycled, broken down, or covered in scar tissue. In this most recent research, nitric oxide sensors showed considerable promise for passing through the body without issue.

After being injected into the bloodstream, they even successfully traveled through the small capillaries of lung tissue.

flyingthroughnanotubeImage Source: Popular Science

The Future Of Lifesaving Medical Testing
As this technology shows immense promise for highly efficient diagnosis of medical issues, does this mean that medical product manufactures should worry  that conventional blood-testing materials will soon be obsolete?

That’s not quite the case. Carbon nanotubes still come with a much higher price tag than blood work essentials and the processes needed to complete all necessary lab-work.

While the carbon nanotube sensors show substantial promise, they still have to be tested for comparably successful performance in humans. Even then, the conventional blood test will likely remain a standard while carbon nanotube sensors will probably be reserved for more critical medical testing needs.

What do you think of this major development in medical diagnostic technology?

Would you want to see what carbon nanotube implants might reveal about your health?

Do you think this innovation will soon help save lives?

Article Sources:
http://www.popsci.com
http://www.nature.com

 

James Spader
 

Comes from a long line of American manufacturers and small business owners. His passions have always been journalism and World War II history. When not working, he enjoys cooking and competing in amateur chess tournaments.

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