Barcelona (Spain) - An international team of researchers have developed a nano-chip capable of detecting protein cancer markers in the blood using advances in plasmonics, nano-fabrication, microfluids and surface chemistry. The device can detect very low concentrations of protein cancer markers, enabling diagnoses of the disease in its earliest stages. The ?lab-on-a-chip? developed by researchers led by Professor Romain Quidant at ICFO ? Institute of Photonic Sciences at Barcelona, Spain.
The device is very compact ? only a few centimetre, it hosts various sensing sites distributed across a network of fluidic micro-channels that enables it to conduct multiple analyses. Gold nano-particles on the surface of the chip, chemically programmed with an antibody receptor, are capable of specifically attracting the protein markers circulating in blood. When a drop of blood is injected into the chip, it circulates through the micro-channels and if cancer markers are present in the blood, they will stick to the nano-particles, setting off changes in what is known as the ?plasmonic resonance?. The device monitors these changes, which is directly related to the concentration/number of markers in the patient?s blood, thus providing a direct assessment of the risk factor.
?The most fascinating finding is that we are capable of detecting extremely low concentrations of this protein in a matter of minutes, making this device an ultra-high sensitive, state-of-the-art, powerful, that will benefit early detection and treatment monitoring of cancer,? said Prof. Romain Quidant.
The device, which is reliable and low-cost, promises as a tool for future cancer treatments. Since it is very portable, it will facilitate effective diagnosis and suitable treatment protocols to patients in remote areas and places with difficult access to hospitals and medical facilities.
Source/Pix courtesy: ICFO