On the results of the latest nanotechnology research, Reed said, “The real achievement here was demonstrating this with blood, which was a longstanding goal. It could not be done before because blood has too much salt and other stuff in it, which prevents this type of sensing. We developed a method to filtrate out specifically what we want to detect.” He went on to explain that this is the first time that scientists have been able to use the sensors with whole blood, which is a complicated solution containing proteins and ions and other things that affect detection.
For their analysis, the researchers developed a device to act as a filter to catch antigens specific to prostate and breast cancer on a chip, while the rest of the blood was washed away. These antigens built up on the chip, allowing for 10 percent accuracy of detection at an extremely small concentration of picograms per milliliter, which is equivalent to detecting the concentration of a single grain of salt in a large swimming pool.
The newly developed device can also be used to detect a broad range of other biomarkers for conditions such as ovarian cancer, and even cardiovascular disease. All the targeted biomarkers can be searched out at the same time, in just one simple test. In addition, there is a significant cost advantage in the production of the device. Reed acknowledged, “The advantage of this technology is that it takes the same effort to make a million devices as it does to make just one. We’ve brought the power of modern microelectronics to cancer detection.”