Detecting tumors can be done at home

“Yes, the title of my lecture is somewhat provocative,” says the spreker, “but biosensor development is going so unbelievably fast. In thirty years' time biosensors will be standard in everyone's home.” At the invitation of SensUs and Studium Generale, science journalist Diederik Jekel gave a lecture Wednesday afternoon about a revolution that he believes is already underway.

Familiar as a diabetic with the use of biosensors from a young age, Diederik Jekel, thinks the invention of devices that use a unique substance to reveal the presence of a particular disease is revolutionary. “That it is possible to measure the sugar in your own blood has not only greatly increased the life expectancy of many diabetics, it has also emancipated patients. Not having to go along to a hospital increases the quality of life considerably.”

He talks about future prospects and about biosensors that we already find ordinary, for example the pregnancy test and the breathalyzer involved in roadside sobriety tests. The canary in the coalmine, who warned miners in coal mines of the danger of carbon dioxide poisoning by dying of it before they did, was also a biosensor, “although not such an ethical one.”

The ethics involved he would also like to see examined. “We should discuss whether the ability to use these sensors is something we actually want, and preferably before rather than after we can do all sorts of things.” Huge steps have been taken in recent years in making high-tech equipment smaller. Jekel himself studied physics at Twente and specialized in nanotechnology. “Using graphene, fine layers the thickness of an atom can be built. We can do something with that! Building an organ-on-a-chip becomes a possibility.”

With the combination of biosensors, nanotechnology and 3D-printers, the world will change completely. Already few people are needed for manual work, soon computers will take over the thinking as well. He concludes his lecture with a general warning: “Take note of everything that is changing in the world. And be smart!”

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