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Lab-on-a-chip can detect cancer in the early stages


May 20, 2014

Researchers at the Institute of Photonic Sciences (ICFO) have developed a lab-on-a-chip de...

Researchers at the Institute of Photonic Sciences (ICFO) have developed a lab-on-a-chip device that works as a very early cancer-detection system (Photo: ICFO)

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Researchers at the Institute of Photonic Sciences (ICFO) have developed a lab-on-a-chip device that can detect protein cancer markers in a drop of blood, working as a very early cancer-detection system. The device can detect very low concentrations of markers and is reliable, cheap and portable, making it attractive for deployment in remote areas of the world.

Early detection is of paramount importance for successful cancer treatment. Unfortunately, many cancers are detected late on, when the illness has already spread to millions of cells, because most medical devices are only able to detect tumors once they have already become macroscopic.

Things could now change thanks to the research led by Prof. Romain Quidant. He and his team developed a small, portable device that uses fluidic micro-channels to detect even the smallest concentrations of cancer markers from a single drop of blood.

Gold nanoparticles inside the device couple with antibody receptors to detect the early sy...

When blood enters the device, it is distributed to a network of micro-channels. Each channel contains gold nanoparticles along with a specific antibody receptor: if a cancer marker protein is present in the blood, it will stick to the nanoparticles. According to the researchers, the device is then able to monitor the number of markers in the blood for each channel, providing an accurate assessment of the patient's cancer risk.

"The most fascinating finding is that we are capable of detecting extremely low concentrations of this protein in a matter of minutes, making this device an ultra-high sensitivity, state-of-the-art, powerful instrument that will benefit early detection and treatment monitoring of cancer," says Quidant.

The device was developed by combining the latest advances in plasmonics, nano-fabrication, microfluids and surface chemistry, and it holds the promise for earlier cancer diagnoses and a prompt choice of a suitable treatment.

A paper detailing the advance appears in the journal Nano Letters.

Source: ICFO

About the Author
Dario Borghino Dario studied software engineering at the Polytechnic University of Turin. When he isn't writing for Gizmag he is usually traveling the world on a whim, working on an AI-guided automated trading system, or chasing his dream to become the next European thumbwrestling champion.   All articles by Dario Borghino
1 Comment

And inevitably the medical establishment wil OVERCHARGE when deploying this testing method (if and when it comes to market) instead of making a very good profit and saving lifes. So what about all the 'great' breakthroughs if it just becomes more expensive to the point that it is actually not saving more lives or preventing more cancer cases? Then we might as well have gone without it. It's about doing better, and it's not a breakthrough when the market corrupts such possibly important new technologies.

21st May, 2014 @ 01:19 pm PDT
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