This is important work in the detection of cancer with a simple prick of the finger for blood - and it is another win for nanotechnology. You can read about it in Nanotechnology Now ("your gateway to everything nanotech").
Scientists at Harvard say molecular markers indicating the presence of cancer in the body are readily detected in blood scanned by special arrays of silicon nanowires, even when these cancer markers constitute only one hundred-billionth of the protein present in a drop of blood. And the minuscule devices also promise to pinpoint the exact type of cancer with greater speed than exists today.
Reporting in Nature Biotechnology author Charles M. Lieber says in a press release on Eurekalert, "A nanowire array can test a mere pinprick of blood in just minutes, providing a nearly instantaneous scan for many different cancer markers. It's a device that could open up substantial new possibilities in the diagnosis of cancer and other complex diseases."
While initial rounds of cancer testing today identify only whether or not cancer is present, nanowire arrays have the potential to immediately fill in details on exactly what type of cancer is present. Nanowires could also track patients' health as treatment progresses. Because the arrays detect molecules suspended in fluids, drops of blood could be tested directly, in a physician's office, without any need for biochemical manipulation.
And to find more about what Dr. Lieber is up to with nanotechnoloy, go to the Leiber Research Group.