miRNA Sensor Image
Researchers discuss the miRNA sensor. (Credit: Matt Cashore/University of Notre Dame)

A sensor that could diagnose a heart attack in less than 30 minutes targets a combination of miRNA to quickly diagnose heart attacks in minutes instead of hours typical with an echocardiogram.

By targeting three distinct types of microRNA or miRNA, the newly developed sensor can distinguish between an acute heart attack and a reperfusion — the restoration of blood flow, or reperfusion injury, and requires less blood than traditional diagnostic methods to do so. The ability to differentiate between someone with inadequate blood supply to an organ and someone with a reperfusion injury is an unmet, clinical need that this sensor addresses.

According to the researchers, the technology developed for this sensor showcases the advantage of using miRNA compared to protein-based biomarkers, the traditional diagnostic target. The researchers say the portability and cost efficiency of this device demonstrates the potential for it to improve how heart attacks and related issues are diagnosed in clinical settings and in developing countries.

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