The worlds largest computer chip manufacturer, Intel, and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center have teamed up to use nanotechnology to detect the early stages of disease. Dubbed the Intel Raman Bioanalyzer System, the instrument uses lasers on small medical samples, like blood serum, to reveal the molecular structure of the sample. The idea is that any minute traces of disease will be revealed as molecular imperfections.
The system is based on a technique known as Raman spectroscopy. It is used by Intel to analyse subtle chemical compositions during chip manufacturing. The laser stimulates molecules within the material, which gives off a unique chemical signature that is analysed by a Raman spectrometer. Because every substance has a unique chemical composition, every substance produces a unique Raman spectrum. Researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, hope the instrument will help identify blood proteins that can foretell the susceptibility, presence or prognosis of diseases such as cancer.