Cancer-detecting microchip in the works

A new team of U.S. researchers will collaborate on building the world's smallest cancer-detection device, thanks to a $2 million grant from The National Cancer Institute.

Scientists at the University of Albany's College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE) and Yeshiva University's Albert Einstein College of Medicine will study tumor "microenvironments," in which tumor cells often spread rapidly into surrounding tissues and cells, or what's called metastasis. For this environment, they plan to build a novel microchip assembled from nanoscale components, or material on the scale of molecules. When implanted in human tumors, the microchip theoretically would be able to gather data on rapidly advancing cells over days or weeks. The chips would transmit data to external scanners on the nature of cells present in the tumor, thus indicating whether aggressive cancer therapy is needed.

"By integrating cutting-edge science and engineering at the nanoscale level with vital biomedical research, it is our intent to provide deeper understanding of the causes of cancer metastasis and migration--knowledge that is of critical importance in the treatment and, ultimately, prevention of cancer," James Castracane, professor at CNSE and co-investigator on the project, said in a statement.

Albany and Einstein are among several other research centers nationwide to receive grants from the NCI in the pursuit of similar research. Other institutions working on new tumor-detection technologies include Stanford University School of Medicine, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Columbia University. The NCI grants call for the nine research centers to eventually meet and work together on advanced technologies.


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