Pharmaceutical International News - May 2012
Biosensor Test Allows Earlier Drug Treatment Supply
Posted by Paul Fiddian - Pharmaceutical International's Lead Reporter on 28/05/2012 - 08:40:00
Work carried out by UK and Spanish-based researchers has paved the way for drug treatments to be supplied at a much earlier stage in a condition's development. In theory, their breakthrough gives all treatment drugs a higher success rate and details of exactly what they've achieved appear in a study now published by the Nature Materials journal.
Working at Imperial College London and the University of Vigo in Spain, they've come up with an extremely sensitive biosensor test that, they say, can pick up on the presence of biomarkers (molecules that highlight the onset of a condition) at much lower concentration levels that current techniques can manage.
To date, their tests have detected one prostate cancer-related biomarker named Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA). From that, the potential's there for the biosensor to now do the same for a whole host of other diseases, they suggest.
The disease-warning biosensor test features an array of tiny gold stars dissolved in a solution that contains proteins derived from blood. These gold stars have on their surface a coating of antibodies, which latch on to PSA once they know it's in the immediate area.
"It is vital to detect diseases at an early stage if we want people to have the best possible outcomes - diseases are usually easier to treat at this stage, and early diagnosis can give us the chance to halt a disease before symptoms worsen", head study author Professor Molly Stevens explained in an Imperial College London press release issued on 28 May 2012.
Earlier Drug Treatments
Using the biosensor, the British and Spanish researchers found they could tell when there was a staggering 0.000000000000000001 grams of PSA in a single millilitre of the solution.
That's a detection rate right on the edge of modern-day biosensor testing and much more accurate than other disease-monitoring approaches. Plus, it should allow much earlier drug treatment supply to take place.
Stevens added: "For many diseases, using current technology to look for early signs of disease can be like finding the proverbial needle in a haystack. Our new test can actually find that needle. We only looked at the biomarker for one disease in this study, but we're confident that the test can be adapted to identify many other diseases at an early stage."
Image copyright EAS - Courtesy Wikimedia Commons
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