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A new technology for cancer screening listens for the signs of cancer
Date:9/18/2007

tch than the sort of cutting edge molecule-sorting apparatuses currently used by researchers and clinical laboratory technicians.

The array consists of a series of electrodes deposited on the surface of a thin film of zinc oxide, which allows the device to resonate, or vibrate, at a specific frequency when a current is applied, much like the quartz timing devices used in many clocks and watches.

The sensor itself is built on a base of silicon, like a computer chip, and could be mass-produced using very well known and inexpensive microelectronic fabrication techniques, Dickherber said.

To turn this array into a sensor, the Georgia Tech researchers coated the zinc oxide surface with mesothelin-specific antibodies generated in the lab of Ira Pastan, M.D., at the National Cancer Institute. These molecules are engineered versions of the antibodies the immune system creates to identify foreign intruders, such as microbial parasites. In this study, the researchers coated the sensor with antibodies for mesothelin, a cell-surface protein that is highly expressed in mesothelioma, ovarian cancer, pancreatic cancer and other malignancies.

When the mesothelin binds to an antibody, the added mass changes the frequency at which the acoustic wave passes between the electrodes on the surface of the device. The device is able to hear the pitch change due to nanomolar concentrations of mesothelin (just a few molecules amid billions) binding to antibodies on the chip. The technology has the potential of detecting biomarkers in even lower concentrations than those tested, Dickherber said.

It is really an elegant engineering solution to a very complicated problem, said Hunt, a professor of electrical and computer at Georgia Tech and lead researcher on the project. We could, for example, detect a number of different markers for a single disease on a single chip no bigger than the tip of a fountain pen. With refinement, this technology coul
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Contact: Greg Lester
lester@aacr.org
267-646-0554
American Association for Cancer Research
Source:Eurekalert

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