New Sensor Could Detect Lymphoma Early Despite Lack Of Symptoms

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Cancers like lymphoma could be treated more successfully if patients visited their doctors early, but how can a growing cancer be discovered if there are no symptoms?

According to a new study conducted by the Institute of Physical Chemistry of the Polish Academy of Sciences, the answer may rest in a special polymer film.

The thin film of polymer - which looks like a small and transparent piece of plastic - can detect the molecule neopterin. Researchers believe neopterin is a marker of cancer when levels are abnormally high.

"A reasonable approach [to detecting the presence of neopterin] is to use special recognizing materials for this purpose, prepared by molecular imprinting,” said Dr. Piyush Sindhu Sharma, lead author of the study. “This technique involves 'stamping out' molecules of the desired compound - their shape, but also at least some of the chemical characteristics - in a carefully designed polymer.”

Early detection

Studies have shown that the most effective way to overcome lymphoma is by identifying early signs of the disease. When symptoms do not arise, however, tumors can develop over a long period of time - thereby making recovery more challenging.

Researchers now believe that getting a sensor to market can take the guesswork out of lymphoma detection and give patients an early start on fighting the disease.

"At present, our chemosensor is a piece of laboratory equipment,” said Professor Wlodzimierz Kutner, fabricator of the product. “However, the production of its key element, that is, the recognizing polymer film, does not pose major problems, and the electronics responsible for electrical measurements can easily be miniaturized.”

Researchers believe there is a clear path to building the safe piece of diagnostic equipment, and they hope in a few years that an affordable product will be available for doctors, medical institutions and the general public.

Source: Institute of Physical Chemistry of the Polish Academy of Sciences

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