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Researchers Develop New Sensor for Cancer Cells

Researchers developed a new sensor for cancer cells, according to a study published on June 6, 2018.

This sensor is similar to that of Velcro®. It is a low-cost method, which is expected to be useful to doctors in diagnosing and monitoring the diseases. Men suffering from prostate cancer is likely to have some tumor cells circulating in the blood, as it exits the prostate gland. The detection of these cells will help in diagnosing the disease at an early stage and will help doctors to assess if the treatment was effective.

However, there are very few tumor cells circulating in the blood and detecting those cells are a big challenge. Sensors that were being used are very expensive and difficult to make. This led to the development of a simpler and more cost-effective way of monitoring prostate cancer cells in the blood.

The device was laid on frosted glass microscope slides. The frosted area, which is used to hold and label the slide, is a sandblasted surface with tiny depressions. A solution was added to the frosted slides, which led to the growth of silica nanowires on their surfaces. Then, antibodies that could recognize prostate cancer cells were dangled from the nanowires. Once the circulating tumor cells are captured by the antibodies, it gets trapped in the depressions on the slide and tangled up within the nanowires, similar to the interlocking surfaces of Velcro®.

Furthermore, the cancer cells were visualized by the researchers using a microscopy. They observed that the device had a capture efficiency on par with other approaches. The devices detected as few as 10 tumor cells in 1 milliliter of blood when blood samples from prostate cancer patients were tested by the researchers.