New technology involving the use of small nanosensors can detect early signs of cancer in the routine blood samples of patients. Nanosensors are biological, chemical, or surgical sensory points used to provide information about nanoparticles, the small objects representing the larger whole in terms of transport and properties.
A group of researchers from Yale University have now developed a method by which the nanosensors seek out and report information on the concentrations of biomarkers in whole blood for prostate and breast cancers. The research was led by Mark Reed, associate director of the Yale Institute for Nanoscience and Quantum Engineering in New Haven, Connecticut. The findings of the analysis were published online in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.
According to Reed, the nanosensors have the ability to “sense the absorption of molecules on its surface and give an electrical signal output.” He also noted that the technology “can generally be applied to many other types of biomarkers.” This lends hope to the establishment of low-cost, fast and easy testing that can be performed right in a doctor's office to detect cancer in its early stages.
Nanotechnology is able to work at the sub-cellular level. Current technologies work in a similar way to the new technology, but are only able to detect biomarkers in purified solutions of fluid samples from patients. Although nanosensors have actually been in use for the past decade, they could on work in controlled, laboratory settings, and this process could take several days to complete. However, with the new technology, small amounts of blood are used for a mere twenty-minute process.