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Sensor Could Lead to Home Cancer Detection Kits

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On February 18, Gizmag.com issued an article by Darren Quick, stating that a tiny sensor is being developed at the University Missouri (MU) that could domesticate testing of several diseases, including breast and prostate cancers.

This sensor is called an acoustic resonant sensor, and is smaller than a human hair. One day it could be used in the home “for the easy, rapid and accurate diagnosis of a range of diseases,” according to Quick.

This sensor is being developed by Jae Kwon, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at MU. It uses a complicated system called micro/nanoelectromechanical systems (M/NEMS) to detect diseases in body fluids. Like I said the M/NEMS are devices that are smaller than a human hair. The sensor doesn’t require other equipment, and has the potential for detecting diseases all on its own.

“ Many disease-related substances in liquids are not easily tracked. In a liquid environment, most sensors experience a significant loss of signal quality, but by using highly sensitive, low-signal-loss acoustic sensors in a liquid, these substances can be effectively and quickly detected – a brand new concept that will result in a noninvasive approach to breast cancer detection,” Kwon said.

The key words, in my opinion, are “noninvasive approach.” Many people will undoubtedly find these home kits to be convenient, but I think that not everyone will want to get the bad news that they have cancer without a medical professional near by to explain the details of the diagnosis and offer comfort.
Quick points out that these kits produce rapid results, thus sparing the person the agony of waiting for the results. This is very true, and is indeed a great benefit.

Kwon said the ultimate goal is make a device that will diagnose several specific diseases and eventually be used to create what he calls a “point of care” system; which consist of services given to patients at their bedsides. If this is the eventual goal then perhaps it will do away with the few misgivings that I expressed.

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