Handheld Device Detects Early Signs of Cancer
Researchers at Stanford University have developed a prototype blood scanner that can locate cancer markers in the bloodstream.
In less than an hour, the device can find cancer-associated proteins in a blood serum sample. This prototype has greater sensitivity than other devices currently available. The scanner uses magnetic nanotechnology to spot cancer proteins and offers early detection because of its increased sensitivity.
“This is essentially a proof-of-concept study showing that now we have a chip and a reader that can find multiple biomarkers in a sample at a concentration much lower than the standard that is commercially available,” said Shan Wang, a Stanford professor of materials science and of electrical engineering.
Wang hopes that this technology will save lives by detecting cancer early, because there is a better chance to kill it.
The device is able to detect many different types of proteins at the same time, which is important because this will allow doctors to give a better diagnosis as to what type of cancer a person has.
The detector contains a silicon chip which has 64 embedded sensors. Attached to the sensors are “capture antibodies” which grab specific cancer related proteins as they float by. A second group of antibodies is added and those latch onto magnetic nanoparticles as well as what was captured by the sensors. Once the sensors detect the magnetic nanoparticles, it also finds cancer markers.
“This work represents a giant leap forward in enabling technology for in vitro protein diagnostics with significant potential for many applications including cancer detection and management,” said Dr. Sam Gambhir, the principal investigator of the Center of Cancer Nanotechnology Excellence at Stanford.
These findings were reported in the Dec. 1 issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
Source/Image: Stanford University Press Release