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Nanoparticles for rapid analysis of tumors

National Cancer Institute reports on the development of a hand-held NMR Instrument for the rapid analysis of human tumors. Using a handheld molecular imaging device in combination with magnetic nanoparticles and a smart phone, a team of investigators from the Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School has developed a fast, portable and potentially inexpensive method of detecting cancer from human biopsy samples. Initial results obtained using fine needle biopsies taken from human cancer patient’s show this device works with speed and diagnoses accuracy compared to traditional pathological methods by which the sample is analyzed several days using various tissue stains that highlight cellular features characteristic of tumors for visualization under a microscope. Such analysis is time consuming and requires technical skill.
The new approach to cancer diagnosis relies on the exquisite sensitivity of nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (NMR) built as a far-less-expensive handheld NMR machine that interfaces with a micro fluidic device and sends its results to a smart phone, which is also used to control the device. The device can detect the presence of multiple magnetic nanoparticles, each designed to bind to a specific tumor-associated molecular marker. In this technique fine needle biopsies are taken and suspension of cells from the biopsy are treated with a mixture of magnetic nanoparticles, each designed to bind to one of nine specific cancer biomarkers, and then injected into the micro fluidic channels of the instrument. Data signals from the microNMR machine are sent wirelessly to a smart phone for analysis, diagnosis as malignant samples and give readout.

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