Researchers Found Way to Use Nanomaterials For Early Cancer Detection

March 19 2021

Researchers at the University of Central Florida have developed a new kind of nanomaterials that could be used to create highly sensitive biosensors for innovative cancer tests, which will be able to provide quick results like modern pregnancy tests do today.

The key innovation of the newly developed kind of nanomaterials is the fact that they have hollow interiors, which makes them perfect for the cancer testing purpose. 
According to Xiaohu Xia, an assistant professor of chemistry in UCP and an expert in UCP’s NanoScience Technology Center, hollow nanomaterials made of gold and silver alloys are known to have superior optical properties, which can be applied in standard test-strip technology used for over-the counter pregnancy tests. Using new hollow nanomaterials will make tests more sensitive. They will be able to pick up markers indicating certain types of cancer, as well as indicating positive or negative symbols on a test strip to communicate this.

“These advanced hollow nanomaterials hold great potential to enable high-performance technologies in various areas. Potentially we could be talking about a better and less expensive diagnostic tool, sensitive enough to detect biomarkers at low concentrations, which could make it invaluable for early detection of cancers and infectious diseases,” Xia said.

Current test strips already use solid gold nanoparticles as labels, where they connect to antibodies and generate color signals due to an optical phenomenon called localized surface plasmon resonance (LSPR). Newly developed hollow nanomaterials have a much stronger LSPR compared to their solid counterparts, offering a more intense color signal thanks to that, researchers explain. 

“Test-strip technology gets upgraded by simply replacing solid gold nanoparticles with the unique hollow nanoparticles, while all other components of a test strip are kept unchanged. The results can be determined with the naked eye without the need of any equipment. These features make the strip extremely suitable for use in challenging locations such as remote villages,” Xia said.


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