Scientists Use Nanosensors for First Time to Measure Cancer Biomarkers in Blood

A team led by Yale University researchers has used nanosensors to measure cancer biomarkers in whole blood for the first time.

Story Courtesy of Yale University, Office of Public Affairs

The team—led by Mark Reed, Yale’s Harold Hodgkinson Professor of Engineering & Applied Science, and Tarek Fahmy, an associate professor of biomedical and chemical engineering—used nanowire sensors to detect and measure concentrations of two specific biomarkers: one for prostate cancer and the other for breast cancer.

“Nanosensors have been around for the past decade, but they only worked in controlled, laboratory settings,” Reed said. “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.”

To overcome the challenge of whole blood detection, the researchers developed a novel device that acts as a filter, catching the biomarkers on a chip while washing away the rest of the blood. Creating a buildup of the antigens on the chip allows for detection down to extremely small concentrations, on the order of picograms per milliliter, to within an accuracy of plus or minus 10 percent. This is the equivalent of being able to detect the concentration of a single grain of salt dissolved in a large swimming pool.

“This new method is much more precise in reading out concentrations, and is much less dependent on the individual operator’s interpretation,” Fahmy said. “Doctors could have these small, portable devices in their offices and get nearly instant readings.”

NWN Note: Professor Mark Reed will be the course instructor for Nano-and Molecular-Scale Electronics at NSTI Nanotech 2010 on Monday, June 21, 2010. To learn more about the course, please visit:


~ by vascoteixeira on December 30, 2009.

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