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University of Ulster researchers have teamed up with scientists at the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay on a project to develop low-volume whole-blood sensors that could revolutionise point-of-care cardiac testing.
Fast, accurate blood analysis is vital in the treatment of people suffering heart attacks or other life-threatening cardiac events, said Professor Jim McLaughlin, Director of UU's Nanotechnology & Advanced Materials Research Institute, who leads the project team.
"If you have a suspected heart attack medical staff will monitor your ECG, respiration rate, SP02 and eye dilation.
"But it is also vitally important that your blood is analysed as quickly as possible. Analysing cardiac enzymes in the blood will enable medical staff to determine the correct treatment. It will guide them on whether to administer clot-busting drugs, insert a stent or attempt defibrillation, for example."
The sensor system under development will use carbon nanotubes to filter out blood cells - preventing them from adhering to the sensor, or distorting the result.
Typical uses of the technology include monitoring of cardiac enzymes, e.g. troponin I, to aid in the diagnosis of a cardiac attack, determine the severity and also monitor recovery afterwards.
The ultimate application will be important in cases where defibrillators are used; cardiac rehabilitation; bed-side monitoring; triage scenarios and at the scene of an emergency.
The UU/IIT Bombay initiative is part of the UK-India Education and Research Initiative (UKERI), a programme funded by the governments of the UK and India, for collaborative projects between educational institutes in the two countries.
The UKERI project has enabled the recruitment of four new PhD students who have already started at UU, and is expected to attract more PhD exchanges as it progresses. The first formal meeting between the researchers took place on 25-28th of September 2007 at NIBEC.
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