An Australian discovery involving fluorescent dye is being hailed as a world first and could lead to faster and more effective treatments for chronic health complications.
The team, led by Monash University's Dr Simon Corrie, has developed a biosensor to continuously monitor rapid changes in the concentration of a protein present on cancer cells and in body fluids.
Traditional diagnostic tests involve sampling body tissue, blood or other bodily fluids, and taking it to a lab for analysis.
But this new technique, which uses fluorescent dyes, opens the door to monitor dynamic changes in real time at the bedside, according to researchers.
The biosensor is able to "read out" changes of the protein by monitoring detectable changes in the fluorescence spectra.
It is being described as a game changer and a world-first test.
"All the diagnostic tests that we are familiar with involve sampling something (blood, urine, tissue) at a particular point in time and taking the same to a lab to interrogate it," Dr Corrie said.
"But for patients suffering from acute conditions, in which time to diagnose and rapid treatment are very important, this traditional diagnostic process is not good enough."
Dr Corrie said the ability to monitor the protein concentrations in body fluids in real time was "invaluable" for tracking patients at risk of rapid deterioration.
"For patients suffering from acute conditions, in which time to diagnose and rapid treatment are very important, (the) traditional diagnostic process is not good enough," Dr Corrie said.
"Our capacity to create antibodies, which bind reversibly to targets and can be 'read out' using fluorescence, means we can develop in vivo sensors.
"These sensors can monitor the levels of critical biomarkers as they change over time in response to a disease or treatment, rather than just sending a sample to a lab and getting a snapshot in a day or two."
Australian Associated Press