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Yale researchers make breakthrough in detecting cancer

Cancer detection and a cure for the disease are two of the most widely researched areas in medicine. The detection and treatment of different type of cancers are being bolstered by research in technology with potential treatment using nanosensors among other things.

Researchers at Yale University have developed a new method of detecting cancer biomarkers in whole blood for breast cancer and for prostate cancer. The team of researchers used nanowire sensors to measure the concentrations of two biomarkers for the cancers.

The research team is led by Mark Reed, The Harold Hodgkinson Professor of Engineering & Applied Science, and associate professor of biomedical and chemical engineering Tarek Fahmy.

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

Using the nanowire sensors, the researchers were able to detect the cancer specific antigens with 10 percent accuracy in concentrations as low as picograms per milliliter. That doesn't sound particularly accurate until you realize that the detection of the antigens in concentrations this small is like being able to find a single grain of salt in a swimming pool.

The device developed by the researchers is a bit like a filter that catches the biomarkers on a chip and washes away the remainder of the blood. The nanowire sensors can also be used to detect other biomarkers for conditions like cardiovascular disease all at once. Before this process, the detection of biomarkers requires sending the blood to a lab in a process that took several days to complete. Using the new method developed at Yale the process takes minutes.

Fahmy said, "Doctors could have these small, portable devices in their offices and get nearly instant readings. They could also carry them into the field and test patients on site."

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Great progress, but need much more
By Lord 666 on 12/14/2009 10:00:59 AM , Rating: 2
While this is excellent news, once CA goes systemic, it usually is too far progressed.

Speaking personally, my father will be finding out this week if his melanoma has spread "too far" (already in liver, lungs, and just touched the brain) after IL2 treatment and radiation to be qualified for his current NIH study.

With CA; an ounce of prevention is truly worth a pound of cure. Because of the now established genetic history, my children and I are on limited sun exposure.

By bigdawg1988 on 12/14/2009 11:50:43 AM , Rating: 2
Apparently these biomarkers are not actual cancer cells, but some sort of precursor. Problem is, they can also be the result of other non-cancerous conditions, but it can at least help doctors narrow down the true cause. One big problem with pancreatic cancer, which is easily treated in early stages, is that there are almost no symptoms until the later stages, usually too late to do much. I assume that these biomarker tests will improve the chances of early detection of pancreatic cancer.
Really sorry about your father. Hope you get good news.

RE: Great progress, but need much more
By aqaq55 on 12/15/09, Rating: -1
Definitly valuable
By masimons on 12/14/2009 11:49:35 AM , Rating: 2
The only downside is that we'll start finding out how early most men actually get prostate cancer.
Hopefully the number of overall biomarkers will be manageable to allow a test with each annual physical.

Like PSA, but immediate?
By kaborka on 12/14/2009 1:24:21 PM , Rating: 2
Sounds like it gives the same results as a standard Prostate Specific Antibody blood test, only it has an immediate result. As mentioned above, this finds the antibody before the cancer spreads.

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