Carbon nanotube transistors orders of magnitude better at spotting cancer, say bioengineers

February 21, 2013

Carbon nanotube field-effect transistor coupled to engineered antibody element for detecting prostate cancer (credit: University of Pennsylvania)

Mitchell Lerner at the University of Pennsylvania and associates have revealed a technique that uses an array of carbon nanotube transistors on a silicon chip to detect a biomarker of prostate cancer known as osteopontin (OPN), The Physics arXiv Blog reports.

The transistor can detect OPN at concentrations of 1 picogram per milliliter — a concentration three orders of magnitude weaker than ELISA can manage. ELISA is the state of the art technique for spotting OPN.

The carbon nanotube transistors can be made sensitive to other diseases, including Lyme disease and Salmonella.

Functionalization scheme for OPN attachment (credit: Mitchell B. Lerner et al./arXiv)