While it’s early days for integrated photonics in medicine and the life sciences,
its impact promises a health care revolution by bringing early diagnosis
and point-of-care monitoring to the masses.
BY MARIE FREEBODY
Imagine testing for a host of diseases and conditions in a single sample of blood, saliva, urine or even a few tear drops.
Cancers, heart conditions, viruses, food
allergies and sepsis are just some of the
tests that could be carried out using next-generation lab-on-a-chip concepts that are
being explored and patented by today’s
Such disposable chips could be loaded
with the sample and then quickly analyzed using a computer, tablet or even a
smartphone for fast diagnostic testing and
simple disease monitoring and management.
It’s not just health care worldwide that
could be transformed; a host of other
applications stand to benefit from such
scalable photonics — from environmental
monitoring and food sorting to fingerprint
detection and lighting to enhance health.
Compared with today’s often bulky
Medicine and Life Sciences
lab equipment, which requires either the
patient to visit a clinic or sending samples
away for testing, integrated photonics
could transform the health care system,
reduce waiting times and costs as well as
provide better care for patients world-
wide. For those in rural or underdevel-
oped areas, it may bring direct access to
doctors for the first time.
“What is really important is that such
lab-on-chip sensors have been applied for
real diagnostic applications of pathologies
and conditions employing only few drops