Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors

Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

Home > Press > Catching cancer with carbon nanotubes: New device to test blood can spot cancer cells, HIV on the fly

These posts, made of carbon nanotubes, can trap cancer cells and other tiny objects as they flow through a microfluidic device. Each post is 30 microns in diameter.
Image: Brian Wardle
These posts, made of carbon nanotubes, can trap cancer cells and other tiny objects as they flow through a microfluidic device. Each post is 30 microns in diameter.
Image: Brian Wardle

Abstract:
A Harvard bioengineer and an MIT aeronautical engineer have created a new device that can detect single cancer cells in a blood sample, potentially allowing doctors to quickly determine whether cancer has spread from its original site.

Catching cancer with carbon nanotubes: New device to test blood can spot cancer cells, HIV on the fly

Cambridge, MA | Posted on March 28th, 2011

The microfluidic device, described in the March 17 online edition of the journal Small, is about the size of a dime, and could also detect viruses such as HIV. It could eventually be developed into low-cost tests for doctors to use in developing countries where expensive diagnostic equipment is hard to come by, says Mehmet Toner, professor of biomedical engineering at Harvard Medical School and a member of the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology.

Toner built an earlier version of the device four years ago. In that original version, blood taken from a patient flows past tens of thousands of tiny silicon posts coated with antibodies that stick to tumor cells. Any cancer cells that touch the posts become trapped. However, some cells might never encounter the posts at all.

Toner thought if the posts were porous instead of solid, cells could flow right through them, making it more likely they would stick. To achieve that, he enlisted the help of Brian Wardle, an MIT associate professor of aeronautics and astronautics, and an expert in designing nano-engineered advanced composite materials to make stronger aircraft parts.

Out of that collaboration came the new microfluidic device, studded with carbon nanotubes, that collects cancer cells eight times better than the original version.

Captured by nanotubes

Circulating tumor cells (cancer cells that have broken free from the original tumor) are normally very hard to detect, because there are so few of them usually only several cells per 1-milliliter sample of blood, which can contain tens of billions of normal blood cells. However, detecting these breakaway cells is an important way to determine whether a cancer has metastasized.

"Of all deaths from cancer, 90 percent are not the result of cancer at the primary site. They're from tumors that spread from the original site," Wardle says.

When designing advanced materials, Wardle often uses carbon nanotubes tiny, hollow cylinders whose walls are lattices of carbon atoms. Assemblies of the tubes are highly porous: A forest of carbon nanotubes, which contains 10 billion to 100 billion carbon nanotubes per square centimeter, is less than 1 percent carbon and 99 percent air. This leaves plenty of space for fluid to flow through.

The MIT/Harvard team placed various geometries of carbon nanotube forest into the microfluidic device. As in the original device, the surface of each tube can be decorated with antibodies specific to cancer cells. However, because the fluid can go through the forest geometries as well as around them, there is much greater opportunity for the target cells or particles to get caught.

The researchers can customize the device by attaching different antibodies to the nanotubes' surfaces. Changing the spacing between the nanotube geometric features also allows them to capture different sized objects from tumor cells, about a micron in diameter, down to viruses, which are only 40 nm.

The researchers are now beginning to work on tailoring the device for HIV diagnosis. Toner's original cancer-cell-detecting device is now being tested in several hospitals and may be commercially available within the next few years.

Rashid Bashir, director of the Micro and Nanotechnology Laboratory at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, says that the ability to filter specific particles, cells or viruses from a blood sample so they can be analyzed is a critical step towards creating handheld diagnostic devices.

"Anything you can do to improve capture efficiency, or anything novel you can do to get the particles to interact with a surface more effectively, will help with sample preparation," says Bashir, who was not part of the research team.

####

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
MIT news
77 Massachusetts Avenue, Room 11-400
Cambridge, MA 02139-4307
Tel 617.253.2700

Copyright © MIT

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

News and information

Researchers find new way to control light with electric fields May 25th, 2017

Nanometrics Announces Retirement Plans of CEO Timothy Stultz: Dr. Stultz to Continue as Director May 25th, 2017

Nanomechanics, Inc. to Exhibit at the SEM Conference: Nanoindentation experts will attend and exhibit their instruments at the Conference and Exposition on Experimental and Applied Mechanics in Indianapolis May 25th, 2017

Three-dimensional graphene: Experiment at BESSY II shows that optical properties are tuneable May 24th, 2017

Microfluidics/Nanofluidics

Using light to propel water : With new method, MIT engineers can control and separate fluids on a surface using only visible light April 25th, 2017

Nano-SPEARs gently measure electrical signals in small animals: Rice University's tiny needles simplify data gathering to probe diseases, test drugs April 17th, 2017

Particle Works creates range of high performance quantum dots February 23rd, 2017

DNA 'barcoding' allows rapid testing of nanoparticles for therapeutic delivery February 7th, 2017

Nanotubes/Buckyballs/Fullerenes

Fed grant backs nanofiber development: Rice University joins Department of Energy 'Next Generation Machines' initiative May 10th, 2017

Nanotubes that build themselves April 14th, 2017

Intertronics introduce new nanoparticle deagglomeration technology March 15th, 2017

Boron atoms stretch out, gain new powers: Rice University simulations demonstrate 1-D material's stiffness, electrical versatility January 26th, 2017

Nanomedicine

Zap! Graphene is bad news for bacteria: Rice, Ben-Gurion universities show laser-induced graphene kills bacteria, resists biofouling May 22nd, 2017

Sensors detect disease markers in breath May 19th, 2017

Oddball enzyme provides easy path to synthetic biomaterials May 17th, 2017

The brighter side of twisted polymers: Conjugated polymers designed with a twist produce tiny, brightly fluorescent particles with broad applications May 16th, 2017

Discoveries

Researchers find new way to control light with electric fields May 25th, 2017

Three-dimensional graphene: Experiment at BESSY II shows that optical properties are tuneable May 24th, 2017

Zap! Graphene is bad news for bacteria: Rice, Ben-Gurion universities show laser-induced graphene kills bacteria, resists biofouling May 22nd, 2017

Graphene-nanotube hybrid boosts lithium metal batteries: Rice University prototypes store 3 times the energy of lithium-ion batteries May 19th, 2017

Announcements

Researchers find new way to control light with electric fields May 25th, 2017

Nanometrics Announces Retirement Plans of CEO Timothy Stultz: Dr. Stultz to Continue as Director May 25th, 2017

Nanomechanics, Inc. to Exhibit at the SEM Conference: Nanoindentation experts will attend and exhibit their instruments at the Conference and Exposition on Experimental and Applied Mechanics in Indianapolis May 25th, 2017

Three-dimensional graphene: Experiment at BESSY II shows that optical properties are tuneable May 24th, 2017

Research partnerships

Three-dimensional graphene: Experiment at BESSY II shows that optical properties are tuneable May 24th, 2017

Zap! Graphene is bad news for bacteria: Rice, Ben-Gurion universities show laser-induced graphene kills bacteria, resists biofouling May 22nd, 2017

Sensors detect disease markers in breath May 19th, 2017

Stanford scientists use nanotechnology to boost the performance of key industrial catalyst May 18th, 2017

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE



  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project