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Remote Monitoring: silicon biotechnology

You couldn't fail to notice the interest in remote monitoring and diagnosis. Offerings vary in sophistication: some monitor activity, such as the opening of a fridge door, others blood sugar and pressure.

I spotted "Labs on a Chip" in Fast Company which looks forward to 2008 when portable biosensors based on silicon biotechnology will be developed by an alliance of Genencor and Dow Corning.

Remote testing devices comprise a reader and a disposable biochip. In tiny wells on the layers of silicon making up the biochip, blood molecules from a sample react with reagents, such as an antibodies. Results are read by the handheld reader.

A related press release from the alliance says silicon biotechnology is expected to yield materials for diagnostics, biosensors, personal care products and controlling the delivery of active ingredients. The materials may also be used in developing new biochip-based devices with acute recognition and superior signal transduction capability.

Wireless technologies are sure to be at the core of telemedicine. In an article I wrote while working for PA Consulting "Care on the Airwaves", I proposed Smart Dust—which may comprise tiny, self organizing “motes”—as a future technology for both sensing and transmitting.

I am excited by the convergence of IT and biotechnology, and will be watching to see which of the promising technologies grow into practical healthcare applications.

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