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 journals 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 Harvards 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. Its a device that could open up substantial new possibilities in the diagnosis of cancer and other complex diseases."
Steve Bradt | EurekAlert!
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