A hand-held device has been designed by researchers who say it can test for breast cancer in under five seconds using just a small sample of saliva while costing only £3.95
A new hand-held device can test for breast cancer in under five seconds using a tiny sample of saliva, say researchers.
The portable device is not only extremely quick and easy to use but very cost effective, say scientists, as it retails at £3.95, and the test strips are just a few pence each.
The design uses common components such as widely available glucose testing strips and the open-source hardware-software platform Arduino. Researchers note that this device is revolutionary compared to the alternatives of Mammograms, ultrasounds, and MRIs which expose you to radiation and are all costly, invasive, slow, and require large equipment.
The team hope that their device will help people around the world to detect breast cancer early on. Author and University of Florida PhD student Hsiao-Hsuan Wan said: “Imagine medical staff conducting breast cancer screening in communities or hospitals.
“Our device is an excellent choice because it is portable – about the size of your hand – and reusable. The testing time is under five seconds per sample, which makes it highly efficient. “In many places, especially in developing countries, advanced technologies like MRI for breast cancer testing may not be readily available.
“Our technology is more cost-effective, with the test strip costing just a few cents and the reusable circuit board priced at five dollars.” She added: “We are excited about the potential to make a significant impact in areas where people might not have had the resources for breast cancer screening tests before.”
The biosensor, created by the University of Florida and National Yang Ming Chiao Tung University in Taiwan, works by using paper test strips treated with specific antibodies that interact with the targeted cancer biomarkers. When a drop of saliva is placed on the strip pulses of electricity are sent to electrical contact points on the biosensor device.
These pulses cause the biomarkers to bind to the antibodies and produce a change in the output signal, which can be measured and translated into digital information about how much biomarker is present.
The results of testing the device, published in the Journal of Vacuum Science & Technology B, found that it could provide accurate test results even if the concentration of the cancer biomarker in the sample is only one quadrillionth of a gramme, or one femtogramme, per millilitre.
Ms Wan added: “The highlight for me was when I saw readings that clearly distinguished between healthy individuals and those with cancer. We dedicated a lot of time and effort to perfecting the strip, board, and other components. Ultimately, we’ve created a technique that has the potential to help people all around the world.”