Nanosensors to measure cancer biomarkers in blood have, for the first time, been used by American scientists.
The research conducted by a team from Yale University has been published online in Nature Nanotechnology.
Mark Reed, Yale's Harold Hodgkinson Professor of Engineering and Applied Science and Tarek Fahmy, an associate professor of biomedical and chemical engineering used nanowire sensors to find and gauge concentrations of two specific biomarkers - for prostate cancer and for breast cancer.
Reed said: "Nanosensors have been around for the past decade, but they only worked in controlled laboratory settings...This is the first time we've been able to use them with whole blood, which is a complicated solution containing proteins and ions and other things that affect detection."
Researchers created a device to act as a filter and catch biomarkers to avoid whole blood detection. This filter allowed the rest of the blood to wash away even as it caught antigen biomarkers specific to prostate and breast cancer.
Fahmy said: "This new method is much more precise in reading out concentrations , and is much less dependent on the individual operator's interpretation."
Another advantage of the new device is that it is capable of reading the biomarker concentrations in a matter of a few minutes.
"Doctors could have these small, portable devices in their offices and get nearly instant readings...They could also carry them into the field and test patients on site," Fahmy said.
Reed added: "The advantage of this technology is that it takes the same effort to make a million devices as it does to make just one. We've brought the power of modern microelectronics to cancer detection."