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October 1st, 2004
Tiny battlefield in the war on disease
To the incredibly tiny gold particles doctors send to search a blood sample for signs of illness, human cells would seem as big as mountains. But the particles' mission is to hunt down something more their size: prostate specific antigen, or PSA, a signal that prostate cancer may be on its way to returning - long before it actually does.
Welcome to the new frontier of nanotechnology, where scientists are learning how to make super-small devices - as small as genes and proteins - to diagnose diseases that remain unseen with present equipment and to provide treatments tailored to affect individual cells.
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