Skip to Content

Nano Test for Heart Attacks

Improved protein detection is key.

Every year, thousands of heart attack victims are sent home without treatment by emergency-room doctors because tests don’t show clear signs of a problem, such as elevated levels of proteins released into the blood by dying heart cells. But an ultrasensitive detector, expected to be widely available for clinical evaluation later this year, could save lives by recognizing those proteins at a thousandth the concentration that current methods can detect – or even less. The device, built by Nanosphere of Northbrook, IL, is based on research by Northwestern University chemist Chad Mirkin, who developed a way to coat gold nanoparticles with selectively “sticky” substances, such as DNA strands constructed to bind with complementary target DNA in a sample. When the nano-particles, stuck to their targets, attach to a microarray that also bears complementary DNA, a digital camera can scan them to find the sample’s DNA concentration. A similar method, using antibodies as the glue, can measure protein concentrations.

Nanosphere’s device detects proteins in minute quantities. (Courtesy of Nanosphere)

Clinical trials are now testing techniques that could be used to diagnose previously undetected heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease. Nanosphere’s CEO, Bill Moffitt, says the device could reveal levels of telltale Alzheimer’s proteins in the blood at concentrations “undetectable by any other technology.”

Keep Reading

Most Popular

Workers disinfect the street outside Shijiazhuang Railway Station
Workers disinfect the street outside Shijiazhuang Railway Station

Why China is still obsessed with disinfecting everything

Most public health bodies dealing with covid have long since moved on from the idea of surface transmission. China’s didn’t—and that helps it control the narrative about the disease’s origins and danger.

individual aging affects covid outcomes concept
individual aging affects covid outcomes concept

Anti-aging drugs are being tested as a way to treat covid

Drugs that rejuvenate our immune systems and make us biologically younger could help protect us from the disease’s worst effects.

Europe's AI Act concept
Europe's AI Act concept

A quick guide to the most important AI law you’ve never heard of

The European Union is planning new legislation aimed at curbing the worst harms associated with artificial intelligence.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.