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'Nanosensors' Spot Early Signs of Cancer
Date:12/13/2009

Blood-based technology could lead to quicker detection and treatment, study says

SUNDAY, Dec. 13 (HealthDay News) -- Miniature "nanosensors" can detect early signs of cancer in everyday blood samples taken from patients, researchers report.

The sensors hunted for and picked up biomarkers for prostate and breast cancers. Study co-author Mark Reed, associate director of the Yale Institute for Nanoscience and Quantum Engineering in New Haven, Conn., said the technology "can generally be applied to many other types of biomarkers."

The ultimate, hoped-for outcome is quick, easy and low-cost tests that can be done in a doctor's office to detect cancer before it becomes troublesome.

"From a personalized medicine point of view, you could take a spot of blood from a fingerprick and get results within minutes. It would be simple, stable and relatively inexpensive," said William C. Phelps, program director of Translational and Preclinical Cancer Research at the American Cancer Society.

"There's a crying need for things like this in lung cancer, where you would want to be able to detect biomarkers in a sputum sample, and pancreatic and ovarian cancer," Phelps said. "You can't really detect these early, so they're very hard to treat," he noted.

"You want to detect a particular protein in the blood that's indicative of disease and you want to detect it early with high specificity and accuracy. You don't want false-positives or false-negatives," Phelps added.

Although the technology has yet to make it to the doctor's office, it is revolutionary in more than one way.

Previous technologies work in much the same way, but can only detect biomarkers in purified solutions, not the real thing -- meaning fluid samples from patients.

"The real achievement here was demonstrating this with blood, which was a longstanding goal," Reed explained. "It could not be done before because blood
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