There are 289 known biomarkers of disease in the blood yet only a handful are routinely analysed when a patient is admitted to hospital. Biomarkers are chemical markers of disease that rise and fall during the course of infection and it is critically important that the absolute concentration of these chemicals in the blood is known for accurate diagnosis. It is the pattern in expression of these markers and their rise and fall in time that will provide a diagnosis even before the patient has the symptoms.
The vision for the project is to provide a technology that will allow a 1 ml blood sample to be injected into an instrument that will measure the absolute concentration of blood biomarkers in 15 minutes.
This technology is currently being developed at the Universities of Exeter and Nottingham, UK under a Research Councils UK Basic Technology grant for £3M which will finish in 2009. The project is the subject of two patents and expects more. It is one of the objectives of the Basic Technology Grant scheme to propose ambitious projects that will develop new basic technology to change radically the way science is performed. The Attogram project is preparing to deliver this step change in the field of clinical diagnosis.
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