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Now a 'bionic nose' to detect bombs, cancers

Near invisible traces of biomarkers in cancer, materials in explosives or pollutants in water can now be detected by a newly developed technology

Both cancer cells and chemicals used in bombs evade detection because they are present in very small quantities. But no a new method being developed can detect them by amplifying near invisible traces of biomarkers in cancer, materials in explosives or pollutants in water.

Pioneered by Tel Aviv University‘s School of Chemistry Professor and Bio–organic Chemist Doron Shabat, the technology being developed aims to amplify signals millions and billions of times, reports IANS.

“We are developing a molecular system that amplifies certain events,” Shabat said.

That way we'll be able to respond faster to medical, security and environmental threats. In effect, our device can amplify just about any chemical system that has a certain kind of reactivity he said.

“It has the potential to help doctors diagnose diseases – those with biomarkers, and enzymatic activities that are compatible with our molecular probe,” Shabat explained.

“The long list includes a few kinds of cancers, including prostate cancer. But it also has applications for testing for impurities in water. It has both biological and non–biological applications,” he said.

Shabat‘s invention is a molecular sensor that acts in a solution. A chemist would add trace amounts of the test material from the field – a spoonful of contaminated drinking water, for example – into the solution and would simply see if the colour of the solution changes. If so, the targeted material –the cancer, explosive or pollutant – is present.

iGovernment
31 March 2009
Washington

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