Nanomaterial used in cancer tests, medicine delivery

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Scientists have used nanosensors for the quick detection of cancers through blood tests, with nanomaterial also enabling the release of medicine at targeted organs, said studies released Sunday.
A technique developed at Yale University in the United States allows scientists to “detect tiny amounts of cancer biomarkers in a small volume of whole blood in just 20 minutes,” the journal Nature Nanotechnology reported.
Yale added in a statement that the findings could “dramatically simplify the way physicians test for biomarkers of cancer and other diseases.”
Researchers developed a device that acts as a filter and catches cancer biomarkers, in this case for prostate and breast cancers, on a chip while washing away the rest of the blood.
This allows for detection of extremely small concentrations on the order of picograms (a trillionth of a gram) per millilitre of blood, Yale said.
“This is the equivalent of being able to detect the concentration of a single grain of salt dissolved in a large swimming pool,” it said.
Current cancer tests take several days but the new device is able to read out biomarker concentrations in a just a few minutes.
“Doctors could have these small, portable devices in their offices and get nearly instant readings,” said Tarek Fahmy, one of the leaders of the research team. “They could also carry them into the field and test patients on site.”
A team of French scientists have meanwhile published in another journal, Nature Materials, their work on using nanomaterial to deliver medicine into the body.
The researchers used crystallised, porous and biodegradable material to hold medicine that could be released into a targeted organ after being injected intravenously, the National Centre for Scientific Research said in a statement.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2009