Researchers from the California Institute of Technology (CalTech) and the Institute for Systems Biology are using nanotechnology to develop a device that it is hoped can do 2,000 tests on individual cells. Such a device would be much faster than current gene and protein microarrays used in early medical diagnosis and drug screening.
Called a "nanolab" chip, individual cells flow across the device while nanowire sensors identify genes and proteins and nanomechanical sensors detect protein and gene interactions.
Expectations are that by years end the device will be able to identify a dozen protein or gene signatures in 20 minutes. Within another year they hope to detect up to 50 signatures in less than a minute. Once at that stage they will be quickly able to scale up the device to check one to two thousand signatures and diagnose diseases or screen for drugs almost instantaneously.