Cancer, a disease that used to be extremely rare and was deemed to be a death sentence by many, has seen advances in medical science that helped increase survival rates by leaps and bounds. Here we are with a team of chemists that has Vincent Rotello at the helm at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, working on a rapid, sensitive method of detecting microscopic levels across many different metastatic cell types in living tissue. To put it in a nutshell, this sensor array system of gold nanoparticles and proteins will work in tandem so that it can “smell” different cancer , similar to how our noses work and help us identify and remember different kinds of odors.

This chemical nose idea is not new, but it is a branch in the medical and scientific world that definitely deserves more than just a passing glance. In fact, it is sensitive enough to differentiate between normal cells and cancerous ones. As Rotello explained, “With this tool, we can now actually detect and identify metastasized tumor cells in living animal tissue rapidly and effectively using the ‘nose’ strategy. We were the first group to use this approach in cells, which is relatively straightforward. Now we’ve done it in tissues and organs, which are very much more complex. With this advance, we’re much closer to the promise of a general diagnostic test.”

I sure hope that the electronic nose sensor array is sensitive and affordable enough to see action in countries worldwide, without costing a bomb. Generally speaking, every one has a right to live and be given an equal chance at survival, don’t you think so?

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