Device Gives Rapid Heart Attack Results
Jeffrey Heimgartner posted on November 07, 2018 |

It’s estimated that an American has a heart attack every 40 seconds. When one occurs, the heart is blocked from getting the oxygen it needs. Quick treatment can literally be the difference between life and death—people who die from a heart attack usually do so within the first hour of symptoms.

Although tests exist to verify that a heart attack has occurred, completing testing requires special training and time. For first responders and emergency room personnel, these tests aren’t an option. Parag Banerjee, University of Central Florida researcher and associate professor, along with Srikanth Singamaneni, a professor and pioneer in biosensors at the School of Engineering and Applied Science at Washington University in St. Louis, is developing a lab on a chip to speed up the detection process.

“Our goal here is to basically remove that guesswork and give first responders, EMTs and hospitals the ability to go in, take a small blood sample, and confirm that such an event has indeed taken place,” Banerjee said.

Associate Professor Parag Banerjee is working to develop a tiny device for early heart attack detection. (Image courtesy of University of Central Florida.)
Associate Professor Parag Banerjee is working to develop a tiny device for early heart attack detection. (Image courtesy of University of Central Florida.)

The device will work by detecting cardiac troponin I, a protein released into the blood when heart muscle cells are damaged, which indicates that a heart attack has occurred. A person in the field or hospital could then drop a sample of blood onto the chip to begin the test.

“Each protein has a very specific structure, and it is this structure that imparts them an ability to do specific tasks in our body,” Banerjee said. “We plan to exploit this very structure of the cardiac troponin I molecule to detect it.”

To make the test viable, the chip is being designed with gold nanoparticles, which have tiny molds on their surface shaped like cardiac troponin I. If the protein is present, it will perfectly sit in the cavity. If it is not present, then no other protein will fill the specific space. Its presence will bind with the gold nanoparticles, changing the gold’s electrical conductivity. Some kind of readout or LED light will then indicate the protein’s presence to the tester.

Although still in the early stages of development, its potential for quick and easy testing seems promising. Banerjee believes molecular cavities on gold nanoparticles could also lead to tests for cancer or explosive detection.

Interested in more medical innovations? Check out Nerve-on-a-Chip Makes Neuroprosthetics Possible and 3D Printing: An Answer for Cardiovascular Disease?


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