The incidence of breast cancer is on the rise, but new tools for early detection could save lives. Researchers from the University of Florida and the National Yang Ming Chiao Tung University in Taiwan reported successful results of a portable breast cancer detection device that can detect breast cancer biomarkers from a small saliva sample. Their biosensor design utilizes common components, such as widely available glucose test strips and the open-source Arduino hardware and software platform.

How the test works «Imagine medical staff conducting breast cancer screening tests in communities or hospitals,» said author Hsiao-Hsuan Wan. «Our device is an excellent choice because it is portable (about the size of a hand) and reusable. The test time is less than five seconds per sample, making it very efficient.»

The device uses paper test strips treated with specific antibodies that interact with the specific cancer biomarkers (HER2 and CA15-3). A saliva sample is placed on the strip, and pulses of electricity are sent to the electrical contact points of the biosensor device. These pulses cause the biomarkers to bind to the antibodies and alter the charge and capacitance on the electrode. This results in a change in the output signal, which can be measured and translated into digital information about how much biomarker is present.

An alternative to mammograms and MRIs for developing countries The design is revolutionary compared to its alternatives. Mammograms, ultrasounds, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) are expensive and invasive, require large and specialized equipment, involve exposure to low doses of radiation, and can take days or weeks to yield test results.
The device is made from readily available materials and costs less than 5 euros. It represents a fantastic alternative in developing countries, which lack access to imaging diagnostic technologies due to their cost.

A drop of saliva and a few seconds to detect breast cancer The biosensor requires only a drop of saliva and can provide accurate results even if the concentration of the cancer biomarker in the sample is only one billionth of a gram, or a femtogram, per milliliter.

«The highlight for me was when I saw readings that clearly distinguished between healthy individuals and those with cancer,» said Wan. «We put a lot of time and effort into perfecting the strip, the board, and other components. Ultimately, we have created a technique that has the potential to help people worldwide.»

Article written by Salud a Diario



Salud a Diario