Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Nanowires can detect molecular signs of cancer, scientists find

26.09.2005


Use of minuscule devices to spot cancer markers could lead to ultra-powerful new diagnostics



Harvard University researchers have found that molecular markers indicating the presence of cancer in the body are readily detected in blood scanned by special arrays of silicon nanowires -- even when these cancer markers constitute only one hundred-billionth of the protein present in a drop of blood. In addition to this exceptional accuracy and sensitivity, the minuscule devices also promise to pinpoint the exact type of cancer present with a speed not currently available to clinicians. A paper describing the work will appear in October in the journal Nature Biotechnology and is now posted on the journal’s web site.

"This is one of the first applications of nanotechnology to healthcare and offers a clinical technique that is significantly better than what exists today," says author Charles M. Lieber, Mark Hyman Jr. Professor of Chemistry in Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences. "A nanowire array can test a mere pinprick of blood in just minutes, providing a nearly instantaneous scan for many different cancer markers. It’s a device that could open up substantial new possibilities in the diagnosis of cancer and other complex diseases."


Lieber and his colleagues linked slender nanowires conducting a small current with antibody receptors for certain cancer markers -- such as prostate specific antigen (PSA), PSA-a1-antichymotrypsin, carcinoembryonic antigen and mucin-1. When these telltale proteins come into contact with a receptor, it sparks a momentary change in conductance that gives a clear indication of the marker’s presence. The detectors differentiate among various cancer markers both through the specific receptors used to snag them and because each binds its receptor for a characteristic length of time before dislodging.

"Our results show that these devices are able to distinguish among molecules with near-perfect selectivity," Lieber says, adding that the risk of false readings is minimized by the incorporation of various control nanowires.

The scientists also fitted some nanowires in the arrays with nucleic acid receptors for telomerase, an enzyme inactive in most of the body’s somatic cells but active in at least 80 percent of known human cancers. In testing of extracts from as few as 10 tumor cells, these receptors allowed real-time monitoring of telomerase binding and activity.

Lieber says nanowire arrays could easily be scaled up to detect many different cancer markers -- more of which are being found all the time, thanks to the current boom in proteomics. Widespread use of these cancer markers in healthcare will ultimately depend upon the development of techniques that allow rapid detection of many markers with high selectivity and sensitivity.

"Genomics and proteomics research has elucidated many new biomarkers that have the potential to greatly improve disease diagnosis," the scientists write. "The availability of multiple biomarkers is believed to be especially important in the diagnosis of complex diseases like cancer, for which disease heterogeneity makes tests of single markers inadequate. Patterns of multiple cancer markers might, however, provide the information necessary for robust diagnosis of disease … [and] detection of markers associated with different stages of disease pathogenesis could further facilitate early detection."

While initial rounds of cancer testing today identify only whether or not cancer is present, nanowire arrays have the potential to immediately fill in details on exactly what type of cancer is present. Nanowires could also track patients’ health as treatment progresses. Because the arrays detect molecules suspended in fluids, drops of blood could be tested directly, in a physician’s office, without any need for biochemical manipulation.

Lieber’s co-authors are Gengfeng Zheng, Fernando Patolsky, Yi Cui and Wayne U. Wang, all of Harvard’s Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Biophysics Program and Division of Engineering and Applied Sciences. The work was supported by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the National Cancer Institute.

Steve Bradt | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.harvard.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht For a chimpanzee, one good turn deserves another
27.06.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Mathematik in den Naturwissenschaften (MPIMIS)

nachricht New method to rapidly map the 'social networks' of proteins
27.06.2017 | Salk Institute

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Touch Displays WAY-AX and WAY-DX by WayCon

27.06.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Drones that drive

27.06.2017 | Information Technology

Ultra-compact phase modulators based on graphene plasmons

27.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>