A test that costs less than $1 and yields results in minutes has been shown, in newly published studies, to be more sensitive and more exact than the current standard test for early-stage prostate cancer. The simple test, developed by University of Central Florida (UCF) scientist Dr. Qun "Treen" Huo, holds the promise of earlier detection of one of the deadliest cancers among men. It would also reduce the number of unnecessary and invasive biopsies stemming from the less precise PSA (prostate-specific antigen) test that is used now. "It's fantastic," said Dr. Inoel Rivera, a urologic oncologist at Florida Hospital Cancer Institute, which collaborated with Dr. Huo on the recent pilot studies. "It's a simple test. It's much better than the test we have right now, which is the PSA, and it's cost-effective." When a cancerous tumor begins to develop, the body mobilizes to produce antibodies. Dr. Huo's test detects that immune response using gold nanoparticles about 10,000 times smaller than a freckle. When a few drops of blood serum from a finger prick are mixed with the gold nanoparticles, certain cancer biomarkers cling to the surface of the tiny particles, increasing their size and causing them to clump together. Among researchers, gold nanoparticles are known for their extraordinary efficiency at absorbing and scattering light. Dr. Huo and her team at UCF's NanoScience Technology Center developed a technique known as nanoparticle-enabled dynamic light scattering assay (NanoDLSay) to measure the size of the particles by analyzing the light they throw off. That size reveals whether a patient has prostate cancer and how advanced it may be. And although it uses gold, the test is cheap. A small bottle of nanoparticles suspended in water costs about $250, and contains enough for approximately 2,500 tests.
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