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

Nanometrics to Announce Second Quarter Financial Results on July 30, 2019 July 17th, 2019

Breakthrough material could lead to cheaper, more widespread solar panels and electronics July 16th, 2019

Caught in the act: Images capture molecular motions in real time July 15th, 2019

NUS ‘smart’ textiles boost connectivity between wearable sensors by 1,000 times: Metamaterials are incorporated into conventional clothing to dramatically improve signal strength between electronic devices, allowing for new applications July 15th, 2019

Microfluidics/Nanofluidics

Dynamic hydrogel used to make 'soft robot' components and LEGO-like building blocks March 22nd, 2019

WSU researchers develop new technique to understand biology at the nanoscale November 7th, 2018

UT engineers develop first method for controlling nanomotors: Breakthrough for nanotechnology as UT engineers develop first method for switching the mechanical motion of nanomotors September 21st, 2018

NIST Researchers Simulate Simple Logic for Nanofluidic Computing June 30th, 2018

Nanotubes/Buckyballs/Fullerenes/Nanorods

Making graphene-based desalination membranes less prone to defects, better at separating June 13th, 2019

Shaking hands with human or robot? Nanotubes make them alike as never before June 6th, 2019

Generating high-quality single photons for quantum computing: New dual-cavity design emits more single photons that can carry quantum information at room temperature May 17th, 2019

Self-powered wearable tech May 8th, 2019

Nanomedicine

An 'EpiPen' for spinal cord injuries July 12th, 2019

Nanotechnology delivers hepatitis B vaccine: X-ray imaging shows that nanostructured silica acts as a protective vehicle to deliver intact antigen to the intestine so that it can trigger an immune response. The material can give rise to a polyvaccine against six diseases July 12th, 2019

Sheaths drive powerful new artificial muscles July 11th, 2019

Nanotechnology pioneer Chad Mirkin wins Kabiller Prize in Nanoscience and Nanomedicine: Molly Stevens of Imperial College London receives Kabiller Young Investigator Award July 11th, 2019

Discoveries

Breakthrough material could lead to cheaper, more widespread solar panels and electronics July 16th, 2019

Caught in the act: Images capture molecular motions in real time July 15th, 2019

NUS ‘smart’ textiles boost connectivity between wearable sensors by 1,000 times: Metamaterials are incorporated into conventional clothing to dramatically improve signal strength between electronic devices, allowing for new applications July 15th, 2019

Strange warping geometry helps to push scientific boundaries July 12th, 2019

Announcements

Nanometrics to Announce Second Quarter Financial Results on July 30, 2019 July 17th, 2019

Breakthrough material could lead to cheaper, more widespread solar panels and electronics July 16th, 2019

Caught in the act: Images capture molecular motions in real time July 15th, 2019

NUS ‘smart’ textiles boost connectivity between wearable sensors by 1,000 times: Metamaterials are incorporated into conventional clothing to dramatically improve signal strength between electronic devices, allowing for new applications July 15th, 2019

Research partnerships

The best of both worlds: how to solve real problems on modern quantum computers July 12th, 2019

Sheaths drive powerful new artificial muscles July 11th, 2019

Activity of fuel cell catalysts doubled: Modelling leads to the optimum size for platinum fuel cell catalysts July 5th, 2019

Spontaneous synchronisation achieved at the nanoscale July 4th, 2019

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



  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project