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Biotech Medicine Science

Prototype Scanner Detects Cancer In Under 1 Hour 53

Ian Lamont writes "Researchers at Stanford say they have developed a blood scanner that can search for cancer-associated proteins in a blood sample and returns results in less than an hour. The device looks in a blood sample for cancerous proteins, and attempts to match them up with complementary proteins using chips based on magnetic nanotechnology. One of the researchers says the device could potentially help doctors identify lung cancer, ovarian cancer and pancreatic cancer at an early stage. The device still has to undergo clinical testing and trials before it can win regulatory approval."
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Prototype Scanner Detects Cancer In Under 1 Hour

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  • yawn (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jDeepbeep ( 913892 ) on Thursday December 04, 2008 @04:56PM (#25994251)

    The device still has to undergo clinical testing and trials before it can win regulatory approval."

    Meanwhile.... 14 years later...

  • by Unknown Relic ( 544714 ) on Thursday December 04, 2008 @05:33PM (#25994737) Homepage
    How does this compare to traditional tests? One hour is great and all, but how long to today's tests take to return results?
  • Re:yawn (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Invicta{HOG} ( 38763 ) on Thursday December 04, 2008 @05:59PM (#25995051)

    I agree - studies like this are quite common in the medical literature and, while exciting to think about, have a long way to go before they find their way into the clinic. For instance, this chip is looking for many different kinds of proteins. Each protein will have a specific false positive and false negative rate of detection. Because the chip has so many proteins it looks for, the total false positive/negative rate for cancer detection of the chip will have to be determined and, likewise, a decision made as to whether this is an acceptable rate for clinical practice. For instance, it might do well for each individual cancer/protein, but when you are looking for so many different cancers, you might find that an unacceptably high number of chips return an answer of "CANCER." Since this might necessitate costly evaluations with their own inherent risks, you will need to insure before this comes to market that the results are clinically relevant and have an acceptable positive/negative predictive value.

  • Re:Usefulness? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by coolsnowmen ( 695297 ) on Thursday December 04, 2008 @06:06PM (#25995143)

    The key to the gap in your understanding is that cancer proteins can be found in the blood with out there being any cancer cells that have actually metastasized to the blood. When any cells replicate proteins slip in to the blood for various reasons. Looking at presence and the relative increase of these proteins is the focus for early detection of cancers.

    tNOX (tumor-associated NADH oxidase) is a protein some research [] was looking at.

    serum amyloid A elevates for lung cancer []

    Doctors in india found a protein to indicate the precursor to colon cancer []

    early detection of ovarian cancer [] based on four proteins: leptin, prolactin, osteopontin and insulin-like growth factor-II.

    All this research is from the last couple years, so it appears that measuring the correlation of these proteins with cancer has been an area of hot research.

  • by jandoedel ( 1149947 ) on Thursday December 04, 2008 @06:30PM (#25995519)
    Well, since it tests the blood of the patient, and doesn't need to scan patient per patient, that probably means that you can put a lot of blood samples together in one big pot, and then test that mixture (and do this a couple of times, to reduce the error margin, but that can be done at the same time.) If your batch is cancer free, you have just tested X people in one hour. If not, then you split the batch in two, and test both batches to know which of them contains the cancerous blood. Continue a couple of times until you found the patient. Testing 256 people at the same time takes 1 test if everyone is healty, or 8 tests if one has cancer. (or a bit more if more than one person has cancer) So that means that the average time per person can be very low. As opposed to PET scans, MRI, CT, SPECT,.. where you can only cram one (or two if you squeeze) person in the machine at the same time. If a PET scan takes 15 minutes, then you can only scan 4 people per hour with one machine.
  • Re:Usefulness? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Walpurgiss ( 723989 ) on Thursday December 04, 2008 @06:42PM (#25995645)
    While that may seem like fun, I bet it would be pretty awful when you do find cancer.
  • Re:yawn (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jcr ( 53032 ) < .ta. .rcj.> on Friday December 05, 2008 @12:05AM (#25998861) Journal

    You are confusing cancer detection (or in this case cancer related protein detection) with cancer therapy.

    I'm doing nothing of the kind. I'm taking note of the fact that the earlier a cancer is detected, the better the chances of survival.

    But at this point you can't criticize when the device is so far from proven

    The hell I can't. The FDA kills people every day.


  • Re:yawn (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 05, 2008 @06:52AM (#26000943)

    faster is not always better. cancer may be deadly, but it is generally not an emergency, where speed is of the essence. the correct diagnosis is important here and we know nothing about specifity or sensitivity of this method. this will not and cannot replace biopsies and histopathological examination.

"There is no distinctly American criminal class except Congress." -- Mark Twain