New Technology For Cancer Screening Listens For The Signs Of Cancer
Researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology have developed a sensor that can quickly and accurately detect the presence of mesothelin, a protein whose expression is strongly linked to a number of cancers—including mesothelioma, ovarian cancer and pancreatic cancer—in a simple blood sample taken in a doctor’s office.
The sensor, known as the the ACuRayTM chip, standing for ACoustic micro-arRay, works by vibrating at a specific frequency when a current is applied to it. The sensor is then coated with antibodies that a particular biomarker, in this case mesothelin, will bind with. When the blood sample is applied to the sensor, mesothelin, if present, will bind with the antibody coating and the frequency the sensor vibrates at will change—indicating that mesothelin has been found in the blood and, therefore, a more extensive cancer diagnostic procedure should begin. The researchers hope they can generalize this technology to allow doctors to detect the presence of other cancer biomarkers in a very immediate fashion.
The sensor is based on silicone, the same material used in the manufacture of computer chips, so it could be cheaply and efficiently mass-produced using existing fabrication techniques.