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May 22nd, 2014
 
An ultra-sensitive chip for early cancer detection
 
An international team of researchers, led by ICFO – Institute of Photonic Sciences in Castelldefels, has developed a “lab-on-a-chip” platform capable of detecting very low concentrations of protein cancer markers in the blood, using the latest advances in plasmonics, nano-fabrication, microfluids and surface chemistry.
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Currently, most cancers are detected when the tumor is already composed of millions of cancer cells and the disease is starting to advance into a more mature phase.

The ICFO lab-on-a-chip (credit: ICFO)

The new device enables diagnoses of the disease in its earliest stages before it take hold, which would be key to successful diagnosis and treatment of this disease.

This device also offers reliability, sensitivity, potential low cost, and small size (only a few square centimeters), allowing for effective diagnosis and treatment procedures in remote places.

How it works


 
Inside the microchip (Credit: ICFO)


Although very compact , the lab-on-a-chip hosts sensing sites distributed across a network of fluidic microchannels, enabling it to conduct multiple analyses.

Gold nanoparticles on the surface of the chip are chemically programmed with an antibody receptor that can specifically attract the cancer protein markers circulating in blood.

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