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June 20th, 2007
Researchers at George Mason University are investigating a remarkable use of nanotechnology that might change the way doctors monitor patients for cancer-indicating biomarkers. These hydrogel nanoparticles, less than one tenth the size of a red blood cell, could function like 'smart' sponges, designed to soak up specific proteins in the bloodstream.
According to the researchers, it is conceivable in the future to inject these nanoparticles in the bloodstream, allow them to run through the circulatory system and then harvest them by simple blood withdrawal for analysis. While the nanoparticles are considered to be biologically inert, proper safety trials will have to be performed before their use in patients. In the meantime the particles can be used to harvest candidate biomarkers from a tube of blood drawn from patients.
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