Thursday, December 23, 2004

Follow that molecule!

Disease detectives (Weekend Standard)

    dna Circulating in your blood are chemicals that provide vital clues to your future health and well-being. Some molecules signal the arrival of heart disease, others could warn of dementia. A few could be released by a tumour as it plumbs its blood supply into an organ, or begins to spread around the body.

    The problem is that we still don't understand in much detail the identities of the many circulating molecules that can give early warning of disease, decline and decay, and they are extremely difficult to pin down.

    There is one way to amplify molecules to easily detectable amounts. The technique is called PCR, but it is limited to genetic material (DNA or RNA). Now a highly precise way of identifying trace quantities of any kind of molecule has been developed by Professor Chad Mirkin, director of Northwestern's Institute for Nanotechnology in Evanston, Illinois, and colleagues. More here

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