Skip to main content

Laser biosensor may detect disease even before symptoms appear

1.2 million Americans live with HIV, more than 12.5 million have some type of cancer and 4.5 million are infected with hepatitis C. Researchers at the City Tech Lab located on the City University of New York campus are helping to detect diseases like these before the first symptom even appears.
 
“It’s early detection, it’s fast detection and it’s very sensitive detection,” said Vasily Kolchenko, biologist at the New York City College of Technology.
For the first time – scientists have detected one of the smallest known viruses, known as MS2.
They can even measure its size – about 27 nanometers. For comparison's sake, about four thousand MS2 viruses lined side-by-side are equal to the width of an average strand of human hair.
To detect it, scientists have improved the sensitivity of a biosensor. This device identifies virus particles when lit up with a laser light. The researchers attach gold nano-antennas to a small glass sphere in the biosensor, making light signals from even the tiniest particles easier to detect.

Kolchenko says, “It’s all about sensitivity. How low can you go…how small the object you can detect.”
This technology can even make measurements in natural fluids such as blood and saliva. Clinical trials are still needed to prove the effectiveness, but researchers are hoping that one day the treatment could start immediately when fewer pathogens are present.
Kolchenko believes that this technology could one day be used in doctor's offices and labs for immediate results, meaning a simple blood test could replace mammograms, colonoscopies and other diagnostic tests.
This new approach could also identify proteins that are important for drug development.
“The beauty of this method, you do it and you see it.  You don’t have to wait weeks for results,” explains Kolchenko.
-Marsha Lewis, ISTV Contributing Producer 

Marsha Lewis is a freelance producer based in California.  She has won 11 National Telly Awards and 9 Regional Emmy Awards for her work in local and national syndicated news.

Comments

Popular Posts

How 4,000 Physicists Gave a Vegas Casino its Worst Week Ever

What happens when several thousand distinguished physicists, researchers, and students descend on the nation’s gambling capital for a conference? The answer is "a bad week for the casino"—but you'd never guess why.

Ask a Physicist: Phone Flash Sharpie Shock!

Lexie and Xavier, from Orlando, FL want to know:
"What's going on in this video? Our science teacher claims that the pain comes from a small electrical shock, but we believe that this is due to the absorption of light. Please help us resolve this dispute!"

The Science of Ice Cream: Part One

Even though it's been a warm couple of months already, it's officially summer. A delicious, science-filled way to beat the heat? Making homemade ice cream.

(We've since updated this article to include the science behind vegan ice cream. To learn more about ice cream science, check out The Science of Ice Cream, Redux)

Over at Physics@Home there's an easy recipe for homemade ice cream. But what kind of milk should you use to make ice cream? And do you really need to chill the ice cream base before making it? Why do ice cream recipes always call for salt on ice?