Down by the sandy beaches of Catalonia, Spain, a team of researchers at the Institute of Photonic Sciences in Castelldefels has successfully developed a nano-chip capable of detecting cancer at its earliest stages. Though only a few square centimeters, this nano-chip is so sensitive that it can detect cancer protein markers from only a drop of blood!
Like a power strip or circuit board, the nano-chip contains sensing sites that connect to a “network of fluidic micro-channels,” which can perform multiple tests from one sample. As chemically programed particles on the nano’s surface attract protein markers, any cancer markers present in the blood sample will attach to nano-particles in the channels as they flow through. The nano-chip monitors all of the changes in the concentration of protein markers to provide an assessment of a patient’s risk of cancer.