London: A team of scientists from Imperial College London has developed a prototype ultra-sensitive sensor that would enable doctors to detect the early stages of diseases and viruses with the naked eye. They reported that their visual sensor technology is ten times more sensitive than the current gold standard methods for measuring biomarkers. These indicate the onset of diseases such as prostate cancer and infection by viruses including HIV. The researchers said their sensor would benefit countries where sophisticated detection equipment is scarce, enabling cheaper and simpler detection and treatments for patients.In the study, the team tested the effectiveness of the sensor by detecting a biomarker called p24 in blood samples, which indicates HIV infection.“It is vital that patients get periodically tested in order to assess the success of retroviral therapies and check for new cases of infection,” said Professor Molly Stevens, from the Departments of Materials and Bioengineering at Imperial College London. “Unfortunately, the existing gold standard detection methods can be too expensive to be implemented in parts of the world where resources are scarce. Our approach affords for improved sensitivity, does not require sophisticated instrumentation and it is ten times cheaper, which could allow more tests to be performed for better screening of many diseases,” Stevens stated.The researchers also tested samples for the biomarker called Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA), which is an early indicator for Prostate Cancer.
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