Science Background

All disease states are associated with changes in cellular and/or tissue biochemistry with consequent effects on the molecular structure of tissue.

Hair is a unique biological material which, because of its growth, reflects in real time the biomedical and environmental history of the subject and can reflect metabolic changes of many elements over a long period of time. Hair samples taken close to the scalp will also reflect the subject’s current metabolic status.

It is therefore reasonable to suggest that the presence and type of disease may be detected by analysing the molecular structure of hair.

Bio Farmag's technology utilises the technique of X-ray fibre diffraction to detect these differences in molecular structure. The short wavelength of X-rays enables them to be used to probe the structure of matter. When an intense beam of X-rays is passed through a hair fibre, the X-rays are diffracted by the molecular structures within the hair and a pattern of the diffracted X-rays is produced that provides information about those molecular structures.

The X-ray diffraction pattern of a hair fibre from an individual with breast cancer has an additional feature superimposed on the pattern. The validation trial achieved an accuracy of 69% (75% after exclusion of damaged hair). To produce the best quality data possible to perform the diagnostic test, Bio Farmag uses X-rays generated by a synchrotron.

A synchrotron is a large machine (larger than the size of a football field), that produces beams of very intense light in a range of wavelengths. This light is produced when the electrons, moving close to the speed of light, are forced to change direction by magnetic fields. This light also includes X-rays. By using specific devices an intense beam of X-rays can be obtained. The X-rays are channeled down beam lines to experimental workstations where they can be used for many applications from the work conducted by Bio Farmag to engineering and medical research.