For the first time, researchers have used a chip-based sensor with an integrated laser to detect very low levels of a cancer protein biomarker in a urine sample. The new technology is more sensitive than other designs and could lead to non-invasive and inexpensive ways to detect molecules that indicate the presence or progression of a disease.
“Current methods to measure biomarker levels are expensive and sophisticated, requiring biopsies and analysis in specialized laboratories,” said research team leader Sonia M. Garcia-Blanco from the University of Twente in the Netherlands. “The new technology we developed paves the way to faster and ultra-sensitive detection of panels of biomarkers that will permit doctors to make timely decisions that improve personalized diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions including cancer.”
In The Optical Society (OSA) journal Optics Letters, a multi-institutional group of researchers funded by the H2020 European project GLAM (Glass multiplexed biosensor), shows that the new sensor can perform label-free detection of S100A4, a protein associated with human tumor development, at levels that are clinically relevant.
“The biosensor could enable point-of-care devices that simultaneously screen for various diseases,” said Garcia-Blanco. “Its operation is simple and does not require complicated sample treatments or sensor operation, making it an excellent candidate for clinical applications.”
The researchers say that the sensor holds potential for non-biomedical applications, as well. For example, it can also be used to detect different types of gases or liquid mixtures.