A new chip-based sensor identifies cancer biomarkers found in the urine that will enable doctors to make specific decisions and thus enhance clinical diagnosis.
FREMONT, CA: Researchers at the University of Twente in the Netherlands have found a non-invasive, inexpensive way to detect cancer from a sample of urine. Current methods are costly and labor-intensive since they require biopsies and analyzes in specialized laboratories. The researchers used a chip-based sensor with an integrated laser to detect very low levels of a biomarker for cancer protein in a urine sample. The new technology helps to identify biomarker panels more easily and ultra-sensitively. That, in effect, would allow doctors to make specific decisions in a short period that will improve personalized diagnosis and treatment.
A recent study published in The Optical Society (OSA) journal Optics Letters showed that the new sensor could achieve label-free detection at clinically relevant levels of S100A4, a protein associated with the development of human tumours. The developed biosensor could allow point-of-care devices that simultaneously screen for different diseases. The operation is smooth and involves no complex sample treatments or sensor activity, making it an acceptable candidate for clinical applications.
The sensor, on the other hand, can also be used for non-biomedical applications, including the identification of different types of gases or liquid mixtures. To detect the presence of different molecules in the sample, the chip-based sensor uses light from an on-chip microdisk laser. When the light comes into contact with the biomarker of interest, there is a noticeable change in the color, or frequency, of the laser light.
Researchers have developed a chip that can detect urine samples using the photonic material aluminum oxide, doped with ytterbium ions, to make the laser. This laser can operate in a liquid environment that emits in a wavelength range outside the light absorption band of water while still allowing the biomarkers to be detected accurately.
Furthermore, the researchers are working to integrate all the related optical sources and components of signal generation into the chip to simplify the operation of the device. Also, they are looking forward to developing coatings that could allow a large variety of biomarkers to be detected in parallel.