NEW TECHNIQUE WILL USE MAGNETS TO TEST BLOOD

Issue date: 14 March 2002


Scientists and Engineers at UWE in collaboration with Randox Laboratories Ltd are developing a new technique that will use tiny magnets to test for substances such as hormones in blood and other samples.

The new system would use microscopic magnets as markers attached to antibodies which are then added to a blood sample. The antibodies attach themselves to the relevant hormone and the level of magnetism can then be measured using a magnetic detector. The device measures the amount of magnetic material and can give an accurate measurement of the level of the hormone.

Current tests* for substances such as certain hormones detect the presence of the substance using markers such as fluorescent molecules, radioactive isotopes or enzymes. These tests take time, require sophisticated equipment and skilled people to operate them. The use of magnets overcomes many of the shortcomings of these traditional methods.

Dr Richard Luxton, one of the scientists at UWE who is working on the project says, “We are looking for a technique which can measure particular substances in the blood rapidly. This is important in medicine – for example if a doctor suspects someone is having a heart attack they could test the blood for the presence of a substance called CKMB. The tests we are developing might tell the medical personnel if that substance is present in a few minutes.

Dr Peter Hawkins, a physicist at UWE designed the original instrument, "The success of the project is due to the collaboration between the different disciplines in the University".

Engineers at UWE are working with the scientists on the technology for the magnetic detector. Dr Janice Kiely, one of the engineers working on the project says, “The aim is to produce a disposable device which is robust and relatively cheap to make and it is hoped will eventually be used in doctors surgeries. It would give an immediate measurement and would not require complex analytical procedures.”

Dr Luxton says the work has widespread applications, “The technology we are working on has applications in the biomedical, environment and food industries. By working with engineers we are able to use the very latest technology together with the very latest advances in science. Magnets have been used in biology before but the production of a small portable device used to measure the amount of a substance with magnets in a sample is a new development.”
-ENDS-


Editor’s notes

1. *The technical term for these tests is: immuno-assay

2. An example of a common test currently used which produces an immediate result but only tells of the presence of a hormone is the ‘Clear blue’ pregnancy test.

3. The UWE team includes Dr Richard Luxton, Dr Janice Kiely and Dr Peter Hawkins, a physicist who designed the original instrument.


The new system would use microscopic magnets as markers attached to antibodies which are then added to a blood sample. The antibodies attach themselves to the relevant hormone and the level of magnetism can then be measured using a magnetic detector. The device measures the amount of magnetic material and can give an accurate measurement of the level of the hormone.

Current tests* for substances such as certain hormones detect the presence of the substance using markers such as fluorescent molecules, radioactive isotopes or enzymes. These tests take time, require sophisticated equipment and skilled people to operate them. The use of magnets overcomes many of the shortcomings of these traditional methods.

Dr Richard Luxton, one of the scientists at UWE who is working on the project says, “We are looking for a technique which can measure particular substances in the blood rapidly. This is important in medicine – for example if a doctor suspects someone is having a heart attack they could test the blood for the presence of a substance called CKMB. The tests we are developing might tell the medical personnel if that substance is present in a few minutes.

Engineers at UWE are working with the scientists on the technology for the magnetic detector. Dr Janice Kiely, one of the engineers working on the project says, “The aim is to produce a disposable device which is robust and relatively cheap to make and it is hoped will eventually be used in doctors surgeries. It would give an immediate measurement and would not require complex analytical procedures.”

Dr Luxton says the work has widespread applications, “The technology we are working on has applications in the biomedical, environment and food industries. By working with engineers we are able to use the very latest technology together with the very latest advances in science. Magnets have been used in biology before but the production of a small portable device used to measure the amount of a substance with magnets in a sample is a new development.”

-ENDS-

Editor’s notes

1. *The technical term for these tests is: immuno-assay

2. An example of a common test currently used which produces an immediate result but only tells of the presence of a hormone is the ‘Clear blue’ pregnancy test.

3. The UWE team includes Dr Richard Luxton, Dr Janice Kiely and Dr Peter Hawkins, a physicist who designed the original instrument.
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