Another Japanese Target
In this new, hybrid field, called bioelectronics, Japan boasts of a lead in moving from lab to market. "Japan is ahead, without a doubt," says Isao Karube, biotechnology professor at Tokyo Institute of Technology.
A big part of that lead is a tiny device created by fusing organic matter to electrodes. Called a biosensor, the device converts natural chemical reactions into electric current to measure blood-sugar levels, monitor the brewing of beer, sniff out pollution, pick the freshest fish in the market or become a robot's "nose."
"It's the same old story," says Christopher Lowe, director of the biotechnology center at Britain's Cambridge University. Biosensors "have been...