Scientist at Michigan Tech, in the lab of Dr. Xiaohu Xia, have improved the accuracy of PSA (Prostate-Specific Antigen) tests through the development of new peroxidase mimics. Peroxidase has many uses, however it’s role in PSA tests is vital in diagnosing prostate cancer. The peroxidase mimics that Dr. Xia and his team have developed are Pd–Ir Core–Shell Nanocubes, which are made by layering palladium nanocubes with ultra thin coats (a few atoms thick) of iridium.
These nanoscale particles are more stable than conventional peroxidase, making them less vulnerable to denaturation and protease digestion. Regardless of their notable stability, their catalytic activity is many orders of magnitude greater than the conventional peroxidase used in PSA ELISA tests. This higher catalytic efficiency results in a more accurate test for PSA biomarkers associated with prostate cancer. The tests utilizing the new peroxidase were found to be 110 fold more sensitive. These Pd–Ir Core–Shell Nanocube based assays can potentially be used for the earlier detection of cancers and other ailments, and in the process also eliminate false positives. The team continues to work on new applications for their new peroxidase, as well as strives to understand the reason why their catalyst works so well.