One-Stop-Shop For Detecting Disease

The days of waiting hours or even days to get results from blood tests at your doctor's office may soon be over.

A local biotech company is developing a revolutionary device that has the ability to perform more than 100 tests from a single drop of blood, with quick results.

Call it one-stop-shopping for the detection of disease.

"It has the ability to change the way health care is delivered," said Fred Mitchell, CEO of Beacon Biotechnology.

Based in Aurora, Beacon Biotechnology is developing the BrightSPOT Reader, a small diagnostic testing device that can provide doctors with more than 100 test results in just 10 minutes.

"The goal is to enable health care to be performed in real-time. To allow the physician to have the tools right there on the spot with the patient to be able to make diagnosis and treatment decisions right then and right there," said Mitchell.

Here's how it works: A drop of blood, urine or saliva is placed on a tiny chip at the center of the BrightSPOT Reader. The chip contains 112 microscopic sensors which are programmed to detect viruses, bacteria, proteins and amino acids associated with disease. A positive result generates light at that sensor, using bio-luminescent molecules from the deep ocean.

A PDA device is used to translate the results, making the system extremely portable, and the applications nearly limitless, according to Mitchell. Beacon is planning specialized readers for respiratory, allergy, and even biological warfare uses among others.

"They brought together some really good technologies in a novel unique way to try to increase the ability to do testing in a rapid manner," said Dr. Ted Palen, a physician researcher for Colorado Kaiser Permanente. "But there's also a downside, the more testing you do, the more data you have, the more interpretation. What do you do with this data?"

Palen believes that Beacon Biotech’s challenge will be educating physicians on how to interpret the results, but he's excited at the possibilities.

"That's where a lot of futurists are seeing these type of advancements going," said Palen.

And that future is not so far away. After clinical trials, the BrightSPOT reader should be available in 2012.

"Our process is to enable real-time health care anywhere," said Mitchell.

Beacon Biotechnology said that the BrightSPOT reader will reduce the costs of many of the tests it performs. The one-time use cartridges are expected to cost less than $100 and the PDA reader about $500.

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