The FINANCIAL -- New device can analyse key medical indicators without any need for needles. It has already been trialled as a way of helping diagnose strokes and skin cancers. A wearable version is also in development, that could be a mini ‘lab on the wrist’ of athletes. Device is a step nearer the Star Trek ‘medical tricorder’ which uses non-invasive scanning technology to analyse a patient’s health.
The laser-based system, developed by researchers at Aston University’s School of Engineering and Applied Science, uses light beams to perform painless, non-invasive checks on medical indicators such as cardiovascular performance and other key metabolic information, which can be useful looking at energy levels or diet balance, according to Aston University.
The tests, which take just minutes, can help assess variables such as regulatory rhythms, the metabolic activity of tissue ( how effectively tissues are consuming oxygen) and a range of tissue biomarkers (providing evidence of a particular disease or physiological state) – and no needles are necessary.
The device uses three separate lasers and several techniques to carry out its analysis:
Laser doppler flowmetry to look at variables such as how effectively a subject’s blood is being delivered to their tissue
Tissue oxymetry to measure levels of oxygen in blood vessels and tissue
Tissue fluorescence to assess cell metabolism, a technique useful in areas such as obesity prognosis and cancer diagnosis
The tests involve nothing more stressful than a laser beam being shone on a patient’s skin – the patient feels nothing. The results are processed by a computer there and then, and displayed as easy-to-interpret graphs.