Innovation: ScanDrop a portable instru­ment to detect various bio­log­ical spec­imen

A few hun­dred dol­lars and 24 hours: That’s what’s required to scan bio­log­ical mate­rials for impor­tant bio­markers that signal dis­eases such as dia­betes or cancer, using industry stan­dard equip­ment. But sup­pose you wanted to mon­itor live cancer cells. For that you’d have to use an entirely dif­ferent method. It takes just as long but requires a whole other set of expen­sive top-​​end instru­men­ta­tion. Want to look at bac­teria instead? Be pre­pared to wait a few days for it to grow before you can get a mean­ingful result.

Researchers face enor­mous time con­straints and finan­cial hur­dles from having to run these analyses on a reg­ular basis. To solve this problem, Tania Konry, an assis­tant pro­fessor of phar­ma­ceu­tical sci­ences at North­eastern Uni­ver­sity, has devel­oped a single instru­ment that can do all of the scans men­tioned above at a frac­tion of the time and cost. That’s because it uses con­sid­er­ably less mate­rial and ultra-​​sensitive detec­tion methods to do the same thing.

Konry’s cre­ation, Scan­Drop, is a portable instru­ment no bigger than a shoebox that has the capacity to detect a variety of bio­log­ical spec­imen. For that reason it will ben­efit a wide range of users beyond the med­ical com­mu­nity, including envi­ron­mental mon­i­toring and basic sci­en­tific research. READ MORE