Michigan State University professor of civil and environmental engineering Syed Hashsham, Michigan State University professor Jim Tiedje, and University of Michigan professor of Chemical Engineering Erdogan Gulari is working on a low-cost and hand-held device for nations with limited resources to help physicians detect and diagnose cancer. The device is called the Gene-Z device, which can be operated using an iPod Touch or Android tablet.
The device will allow you to perform genetic analysis on microRNAs and other genetic markers. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are short ribonucleic acid (RNA) molecules (on average only 22 nucleotides long) that is found in all eukaryotic cells except on fungi, marine plants, and algae. Changes in certain kinds of microRNAs are often times linked to cancer. The Gene-Z was developed through a grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. Hashsham and the team is also working with MSU’s Institute of International Health director Reza Nassiri and an assistant dean at the College of Osteophatic Medicine.
“Until now, little effort has been concentrated on moving cancer detection to global health settings in resource-poor countries,” stated Nassiri. “Early cancer detection in these countries may lead to affordable management of cancers with the aid of new screening and diagnostic technologies that can overcome global health care disparities.”
“Gene-Z has the capability to screen for established markers of cancer at extremely low costs in the field,” added Hashsham. “Because it is a hand-held device operated by a battery and chargeable by solar energy, it is extremely useful in limited-resource settings.”
The Gene-Z will also have the ability to diagnose routine tuberculosis and drug-resistant TB. It would also have the ability to determine HIV virus levels during treatment. Some MSU students that worked on the team include Robert Stedtfeld, Farhan Ahmad, Dieter Tourlousse, Greg Seyrig, and Maggie Kronlein.