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Posted: Mar 13, 2012

Semiconductors in personalized medicine

(Nanowerk News) The IET's flagship journal, Electronics Letters, has published a special supplement on the subject of Semiconductors in Personalised Medicine, available FREE online (until the end of June 2012).
This special supplement gives a snapshot of the leading work in this field, with invited contributions covering the whole spectrum from wireless technology through to chemical sensing technology for healthcare. It also includes an interview with each of the lead contributors to find out more about how they got into this field and their personal perspective of the challenges and opportunities.
Because of its interdisciplinary scope and international readership, Electronics Letters is perfectly placed within the field of electrical engineering to showcase the current state of this fascinating subject. Guest Editor, Professor Chris Toumazou, explained further that 'Electronics Letters is the ideal journal for the publication of such semiconductor-related healthcare research as many of the ground breaking developments in semiconductor technology have been published within its pages over the last few decades.'
Semiconductors get personal
The last decade has seen a growing demand from the healthcare sector for novel solutions to combat the ever-increasing problem of chronic disease. With billions spent each year globally on the management of illnesses such as heart failure and diabetes, being able to predict the onset of a condition before it manifests itself into something serious could greatly impact on patients' lives, as well as reducing the costs of healthcare. Furthermore, moving patients with chronic disease out of the hospital and into the home will increase their quality of life, and free up time and resources in the hospital as well as the huge costs of re-admittance. Personalised medicine has become a very real and important issue.
Semiconductors for personalised medicine are finally coming of age and the results are beginning to emerge. All aspects of healthcare are covered, and the huge range of technologies was explained by Toumazou: 'We are starting to see miniature wireless technologies that can continuously monitor vital signs such as heart rate and respiration, and interface directly to the internet cloud to alert the hospital in real time when something is wrong, and we are seeing semiconductors as the enabler for groundbreaking technology for genetics, capable of sequencing a human's DNA in a massively parallel fashion, very rapidly at a low cost.' The benefits of this sequencing are numerous, for example allowing detection of predisposition to disease and playing a key role in the war against cancer.
The special supplement also features an extended interview with Professor Piet Bergveld, the inventor of the ion-sensitive field effect transistor (ISFET). This inspirational piece entitled '40 years of ISFET technology: from neuronal sensing to DNA sequencing' gives an account of the journey of the founding father of the ISFET. Professor Bergveld explains how, through facing many challenges, he finally gained acceptance of his technology in a variety of applications, one of the most important being the state-of-the-art next-generation semiconductor sequencing of a whole genome on a single CMOS microchip using ISFETs.
Source: The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET)
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