Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Micro-gyroscopes that can detect cancer

23.12.2005


A vibrating disc no bigger than a speck of dust could help to diagnose and monitor common types of cancer and provide specialists with information about the most appropriate therapy.



The European Commission has this month awarded 12 million Euros to an international consortium led by Newcastle University, England, to develop the biosensor technology towards clinical trials stage.

The research team aims to produce a hand-held device which would enable samples of blood, smear or biopsy to be tested quickly and accurately, for signs of cancer of the breast, cervix, colon or rectum.


The device would identify ’cancer specific markers’ - proteins or other molecules produced by cancer cells - which vary according to the type of cancer and are distinct from proteins produced by healthy cells.

The researchers have manufactured discs less than one-tenth of a millimetre in diameter and coated them with special patterns of DNA or proteins which cause the cancer-specific markers to bind to the surface.

The discs are created in a silicon wafer and made to vibrate electronically in two modes. When a cancer-specific marker binds to the surface of a disc, in the pattern of the coating, the uneven weight causes one of the modes of vibration to change in frequency.

The difference between the frequencies of the two modes of vibration is measured, enabling the detection of tiny amounts of cancer specific marker. In theory, even the weight of a single molecule binding to the surface of a disc could be detected. .

Professor Calum McNeil, of the School of Clinical and Laboratory Sciences at Newcastle University, who is leading the project, said: ’We are confident that this new technology has the potential to improve the prospects of successful treatment for these cancers’.

’Early diagnosis and effective monitoring of cancers are known to be key factors influencing outcome. In addition, the technology could provide specialists with advice about the most appropriate therapy for a particular patient, since the devices could easily be connected to sources of information such as a hospital computer network, the internet or a mobile phone.’

Initial research was funded by the LINK Analytical Biotechnology Initiative, sponsored by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and the Department of Trade and Industry.

The technology could eventually be developed for other types of cancer and a range of other diseases, including those caused by bacteria. This opens up the possibility of hospitals being able to screen new patients and visitors for MRSA, tuberculosis and other diseases to prevent the infections being carried into the wards.

Potential uses do not stop at medicine. In theory, the technology could be used to detect particles from biological or chemical weapons, providing an early warning system against terrorist attacks.

Professor McNeil collaborated closely with colleagues in engineering and life sciences at Newcastle University*. In fact, the idea of vibrating discs was inspired by earlier work at the University involving the manufacture of micro-gyroscopes, which are now standard equipment in many devices that detect movement, from navigation equipment to car air-bags.

At the heart of a micro-gyroscope is a vibrating disc that must be almost perfectly formed to operate correctly. Professor McNeil realised that a near-perfect disc could be turned into an extremely sensitive weighing machine because the addition of a tiny weight would make it vibrate unevenly.

European Commission funding for the project, known as Smart Integrated Biodiagnostic Systems for Healthcare, or SmartHEALTH for short, officially begins in December 2005, via the European Commission’s Framework 6 programme.

The research consortium comprises four universities, seven research institutes, 11 SMEs (small to medium-sized enterprises), three large companies and four clinical centres in the UK, Germany, Netherlands, Spain, Belgium, Ireland, Switzerland, Italy, Norway, Sweden and Australia.

Professor Calum McNeil | alfa
Further information:
http://www.nl.ac.uk

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Electrical 'switch' in brain's capillary network monitors activity and controls blood flow
27.03.2017 | Larner College of Medicine at the University of Vermont

nachricht Laser activated gold pyramids could deliver drugs, DNA into cells without harm
24.03.2017 | Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Northern oceans pumped CO2 into the atmosphere

27.03.2017 | Earth Sciences

Fingerprint' technique spots frog populations at risk from pollution

27.03.2017 | Life Sciences

Big data approach to predict protein structure

27.03.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>