Smaller is better for detecting biomarkers of trauma and cancer
Biomarkers are not only tiny but very dilute. The most direct approach to detecting them involves sending serum samples off to undergo a sensitive but costly so-called dELISA (digital enzyme linked immunosorbent assay) test. For some medical conditions such as TBI, an alternative—also costly—is to rely on CT and MRI scans of the affected organs.
With the support of a $1.6 million grant from the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, researchers at the University of Rochester and the University of Ottawa are developing a far less expensive, faster, portable alternative—a biomarker detector using nanopore membranes and filters so thin it would take more than 1,000 stacked on top of each other to equal the width of a human hair.