May 23, 2024

Hand-held Biosensor Uses Saliva Sample for Fast, Affordable, and Accurate Breast Cancer Screening

A team of researchers from the University of Florida and National Yang Ming Chiao Tung University in Taiwan has developed a hand-held biosensor that can detect breast cancer biomarkers using a small sample of saliva. The results of their study were published in the Journal of Vacuum Science & Technology B.

The biosensor design utilizes readily available components, including glucose testing strips and the Arduino open-source hardware-software platform. The device is portable, roughly the size of a hand, and reusable, making it ideal for breast cancer screening in communities and hospitals.

The testing process is quick and efficient, taking less than five seconds per sample. The biosensor uses paper test strips treated with specific antibodies that interact with the targeted cancer biomarkers. When a saliva sample is applied to the strip, pulses of electricity are sent to electrical contact points on the device. These pulses cause the biomarkers to bind to the antibodies, altering the charge and capacitance over the electrode. This change in the output signal can be measured and translated into digital information about the amount of biomarker present.

Compared to alternative methods such as mammograms, ultrasounds, and MRIs, the hand-held biosensor offers several advantages. These traditional screening methods are costly, invasive, and require specialized equipment, exposing patients to low-dose radiation and resulting in long wait times for test results.

In many regions, particularly in developing countries, advanced technologies like MRIs for breast cancer testing may not be readily available, making the hand-held biosensor an appealing alternative.

The cost-effectiveness of the biosensor is another key advantage. The test strip itself is inexpensive, costing just a few cents, and the reusable circuit board is priced at $5. This affordability opens up the potential for breast cancer screening in areas where resources for such tests were previously limited.

The biosensor only requires a small amount of saliva, yet it can provide accurate results even with a tiny concentration of the cancer biomarker in the sample, as low as one femtogram per milliliter.

The researchers are excited about the potential impact of their technology, which has demonstrated the ability to distinguish between healthy individuals and those with cancer. The team dedicated significant time and effort to perfecting the strip, board, and other components, resulting in a technique that could benefit people worldwide.

The hand-held biosensor offers a fast, affordable, and accurate method for breast cancer screening. With its portability, low cost, and reliable results, it has the potential to make a significant impact on breast cancer detection, particularly in underserved communities and developing countries.

1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it