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Tiny Sensor Could Spot Cancer Early
Date:9/18/2007

Device is one of many innovations that may revolutionize care

TUESDAY, Sept. 18 (HealthDay News) -- A small, cheaply produced device could hold the key to detecting cancer at its earliest and most curable stage, developers say.

Graduate students say they've created an acoustic sensor aimed at detecting minute amounts of mesothelin, a molecule associated with several cancers, in blood samples. But they stress that real-life applications are still a way off.

"We're still at an early stage. This is just past the proof-of-concept stage," said Anthony J. Dickherber, lead author of the study and a doctoral candidate in bioengineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta. "Once this tool is fully developed, it probably will be most useful to clinical laboratories. We're trying to create a very cost-effective, disposable test that can detect very small amounts of a target in a very noisy medium [a blood sample] where you have parts per billion or parts per trillion of your target amid all these things."

Dickherber presented the findings at the American Association for Cancer Research's second International Conference on Molecular Diagnostics in Cancer Therapeutic Development, being held in Atlanta.

A second study, also being presented at the conference, identifies a protein that may be an early warning sign for lung cancer.

Early detection is a holy grail of cancer research. The earlier a cancer is found, the more likely a cure will ensue.

Scientists are always busy identifying many new biomarkers that can detect cancer at its very earliest stages. However, these biomarkers are usually only found in very low concentrations. That means that not one, but multiple markers may be needed for an accurate diagnosis to be made.

"It's generally considered for most cancers that not one single golden target is going to tell you everything you need to know. It's very likely yo
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