Ryan Bailey, 34 Shining a Light on Faster, Cheaper, More                      Accurate Medical TestsTests to detect rheuma...
Ryan bailey
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Ryan bailey

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Ryan bailey

  1. 1. Ryan Bailey, 34 Shining a Light on Faster, Cheaper, More Accurate Medical TestsTests to detect rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and other autoimmune diseases can costhundreds of dollars and take days, and they aren’t always accurate. To address thoseshortcomings, Ryan Bailey, a chemist at the University of Illinois, developed a silicontesting chip that fuses optical sensor technology with semiconductor fabrication methods.Bailey’s chip is faster and more sensitive than many other optical tests, which typically lookfor color changes or fluorescence in response to telltale proteins. And it also outperformsmany tests that detect changes in the electric charge of proteins and DNA.The device can detect almost vanishingly small concentrations of proteins in 10 minutes orless—which means test results can be put to clinical use during an office visit. For mostassays, samples can be placed on the chip without any of the preparation required incurrent systems, making the test easy to run with little training. And at about one dollar pertest, it costs a fraction as much as most others.Each silicon chip has an array of 30-micrometer-wide rings. Each ring can be coated with amolecular trap for a different protein, gene, or biomarker. If light of a certain wavelengthshines onto the empty rings, it will resonate and appear brighter to an optical scannerpositioned over the chip. When a sample is washed over the chip, any sought-aftermolecules in the sample will be trapped on the rings—and the change causes the light toresonate at a different wavelength. The wavelength also varies with the amount of trappedmaterial.In 2007 Bailey helped launch a company called Genalyte; it recently introduced its firstdiagnostic assay for connective-tissue autoimmune diseases, with a focus on lupus. Thecompany is also working on applications of the technology in diagnostics for cancer and forcardiovascular and neurodegenerative disease. It is currently producing chips with 128rings, but Bailey expects the number to go up. His group is also working to simultaneouslydetect two different kinds of biological molecules on a single chip, such as a protein and anRNA molecule. http://www2.technologyreview.com/tr35/profile.aspx?trid=1322

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