Amazingly one of the first benefits of nanotechnology may be really, really sensitive detectors of cancer.
Harvard University researchers have
found that molecular markers indicating the presence of cancer in the
body are readily detected in blood scanned by special arrays of silicon
nanowires — even when these cancer markers constitute only one
hundred-billionth of the protein present in a drop of blood. In
addition to this exceptional accuracy and sensitivity, the minuscule
devices also promise to pinpoint the exact type of cancer present with
a speed not currently available to clinicians….
"This is one of the first applications of nanotechnology to
healthcare and offers a clinical technique that is significantly better
than what exists today," says author Charles M. Lieber, Mark Hyman Jr.
Professor of Chemistry in Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences. "A
nanowire array can test a mere pinprick of blood in just minutes,
providing a nearly instantaneous scan for many different cancer
markers. It’s a device that could open up substantial new possibilities
in the diagnosis of cancer and other complex diseases."