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The sensor has been proven reliable to detect the presence of the cancer biomarker carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) to the magnitude of 1 nanogram per milliliter. Most humans carry at least some amounts of CEA with an average range of 3-5 nanograms per milliliter. The researchers chose to focus on CEA because its presence in higher concentrations is an early indicator of many forms of cancer, including lung and prostate cancers.
"Cancer is one of the major causes of death in the United States as more than half of the new patients are diagnosed after it has already spread," Ameen explained. "This shows the gravity with which this problem needs to be addressed and this new design of a plasmonic sensor helps to detect the lower concentration of CEA at an earlier state."
Sensor - Improvement - Method - Reasons - First
The plasmonic sensor is an improvement of the current state-of-the-art method for a few reasons. First, it was able to improve the limit of detection by at least two orders of magnitude. In fact, most methods aren't able to accurately detect the presence of CEA until it reaches a higher concentration.
Secondly, because it works with much less instrumentation, it is less expensive and more portable and doesn't require nearly the expertise to make a reading. It also means instead of needing a vile of blood for a test, a simple finger prick will do. This aspect will be especially important for those who don't live close to an advanced medical facility, including those in developing nations.
Research - Team - Logan - Liu - Lynford
The research team was led by Logan Liu, and Lynford Goddard, associate professors of electrical and computer engineering with students Abid Ameen and Lisa Hackett carrying out the project. The team published its results in Advanced Optical Materials as a cover article.
The device combines two sensing methods, which hadn't until this time been able to...
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