Professor Calum McNeil and colleagues at the School of Clinical and Laboratory Sciences at Newcastle University are developing miniaturized gyroscopes that could help to diagnose cancer and aid in its treatment. Gyroscopes–“no bigger than a speck of dust”–will become part of a future generation of biosensors and will function through the identification of cancer specific markers (proteins, DNA sequences or other molecules):
The researchers have manufactured discs less than one-tenth of a millimetre in diameter and coated them with special patterns of DNA or proteins which cause the cancer-specific markers to bind to the surface.
The discs are created in a silicon wafer and made to vibrate electronically in two modes. When a cancer-specific marker binds to the surface of a disc, in the pattern of the coating, the uneven weight causes one of the modes of vibration to change in frequency.
The difference between the frequencies of the two modes of vibration is measured, enabling the detection of tiny amounts of cancer specific marker. In theory, even the weight of a single molecule binding to the surface of a disc could be detected.
The press release…