London: Nanoprobes made from gold could be used to predict people`s cancer risk and the effectiveness of treatments, as the new technology would also allow scientists to identify contaminants in food and water supplies.The nanoprobes could allow scientists to study cancer cells in minute detail using a highly-sensitive imaging technique known as FRET microscopy with the aim of identifying tumour-causing properties, following a research by University of Strathclyde academics in Scotland.The nanoprobes could also be used to measure how effective medicines are at a sub-cellular level of detail, while another application could be the identification of contaminants in food and water supplies, the University said in a release today.Dr Yu Chen of the University`s Department of Physics said: "The technology could allow the simultaneous detection of multiple types of RNA related to cancer, which would then raise the possibility of scientists eventually being able to screen patients, in order to predict their risk of developing disease."By allowing us to see what is happening inside cells, we also hope this research will also lead to the development of techniques to study the efficacy of drugs."Professor David Birch, also from the Physics Department, said: "We are very excited about the potential applications of this multi-disciplinary approach, which harnesses expertise from physics, chemistry, biology, engineering and medicine."We hope it will lead to the development of a new generation of biological imaging and sensing techniques that underpin improvements in healthcare for a range of diseases."The team also believes FRET microscopy with gold nanoparticles could be used to improve food and water safety.Dr Jun Yu of the Strathclyde Institute of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences said: "This new approach to imaging RNA at a single-cell level may also allow scientists to develop new methods to identify various microbes which may have contaminated food and water."Food safety is a global challenge and using novel nanoprobes to detect food contamination by various microbes will open up a new way of addressing this crucial issue."Gold nanoparticles less than 1000th of the width of a human hair have a number of advantages over organic dye molecules that are used at present for studying cells with fluorescence microscopy.
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