Lung cancer is a terrible disease, and anyone can get it. It’s hard to detect. Now a grad student is making progress at building a detector, reports Azonano.com:
“With this technology, a future scenario might be that you go to the doctor every year for an annual checkup; he draws about 10 cc’s of your blood and runs it through our machine,” said Soman. “The machine is equipped to detect the biomarkers for all the common types of cancer. Half an hour later it produces a list of the biomarkers that it has found. And then either a software program or the physician examines this list to determine whether you have any cancers that need treating.”
Although they don’t have any hard-and-fast figures, the researchers say that such a test could be very inexpensive. Quantum dots are expensive on a per gram basis, but only a minute quantity is used in each test.
“For our commercial plan, we proposed a variation on the Gillette razor model: Selling razors cheaply and profiting on the sale of the blades,” Soman said. “There was a lot of interest in our approach because it gets around one of the major problems in the biomarker field – the need to license biomarkers that have been patented by hundreds of different people.”
The researchers are focusing on lung cancer as an initial application because there is currently no adequate way to detect it at an early stage. According to the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Facts and Figures 2007, only 16 percent of lung cancers are detected early, when they can be treated with a 50 percent survival rate. For the other 84 percent, the survival rate drops to 2 percent.
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