March 2, 2005 – Toray Industries, a Japanese manufacturer of synthetic fibers, has developed a plastic chip half the size of a business card which it said could detect a number of diseases, including cancer, within 30 minutes, according to the Agence France-Presse. The company plans to market the chip in Japan within two years.
Conventional diagnostic chips are made of glass and can be used only after the blood samples are refined with separate equipment. But Toray’s chip is made of synthetic resin and can find certain types of proteins in the blood.
“An early detection is very crucial in curing serious diseases such as cancer. We want to help people detect diseases at an early stage,” Masashi Higasa, Toray’s senior research associate, told AFP.
“On the surface of the chip, there is a chemical-soaked ‘corridor’ where blood goes through for refinement. At the end of the corridor, only essential proteins in the blood remains for a diagnosis,” Higasa said in an interview. “The whole process takes about 30 minutes. It is the fastest medical diagnostic chip.”
Medical experts, however, caution that patients need to undergo more than one test to detect diseases such as cancer to ensure blood samples were of good quality and also to monitor physical symptoms.