Detect cancer early through breakthrough technology: EC research goal

Articles
December 22, 2008

Detect cancer early through breakthrough technology: EC research goal

Science has a far way to go to replicate Nature in its quest to improve our collective health. Consider this one point from the website of Receptronics, a collaborative research project funded by the European Commission: “The sensitivity of chemical senses in insects is 100 billion times greater than state-of-the-art electronic noses.” Welcome to the enormous challenge scientists face who aim to detect specific molecules in order to “identify the onset or prediction of disease before the patient shows any symptoms,” noted the site of the project, coordinated by Professor Marco Tartagni, of the Center of Excellence ARCES & Department of Electronics and Computer Sciences, II School of Engineering, University of Bologna, Italy. A potential breakthrough technology for “early cancer diagnosis and hormone balance monitoring…[and] for detecting contaminants at very low concentration for environmental safety in agricultural and industrial processes,” Receptronics findings could lead to quicker treatments that are appropriate to specific patients, and lead to fewer side effects and faster recovery.

Science has a far way to go to replicate Nature in its quest to improve our collective health. Consider this one point from the website of Receptronics, a collaborative research project funded by the European Commission: “The sensitivity of chemical senses in insects is 100 billion times greater than state-of-the-art electronic noses.”

Welcome to the enormous challenge scientists face who aim to detect specific molecules in order to “identify the onset or prediction of disease before the patient shows any symptoms,” noted the site of the project, coordinated by Professor Marco Tartagni, of the Center of Excellence ARCES & Department of Electronics and Computer Sciences, II School of Engineering, University of Bologna, Italy.

A potential breakthrough technology for “early cancer diagnosis and hormone balance monitoring…[and] for detecting contaminants at very low concentration for environmental safety in agricultural and industrial processes,” Receptronics findings could lead to quicker treatments that are appropriate to specific patients, and lead to fewer side effects and faster recovery.

This would clearly be huge, if they pull this off. Less suffering, less expense, lower death rates, to name a few.  The researchers are exploring these possibilities using a hybrid technology—a blend of bionanotechnology and microelectronics—to develop devices that are low-cost, portable and highly sensitive in order to recognize specific biological molecules at very low concentrations. They want to customize these devices to be able to recognize specific target molecules, which would be similar to what the human body does.

More technical explanations of how this approach could possibly work are available at www.receptronics.org. But to SupermarketGuru.com, this research is an ambitious example of cooperation among nations—Italy, France, Greece and the United Kingdom—that could bring far-reaching benefits to populations around the world. It represents open-minded thinking that we often feel is in too short supply.