Clinical Trial Finds Nanotube Sensor Can Monitor Cancer or Diabetes

Nanotube sensorNanotechnology in Medicine

Most everybody knows about a litmus test, strips of paper impregnated with dyes that turn red in the presence of acid and blue if there is a base (alkaline). It’s a kind of chemical sensor. There are many kinds of chemicals that can similarly act like a sensor, detecting the presence of other chemicals.

Some of them would work in the human body, detecting glucose (blood sugar) for example, but the problem has always been using them in a way that is effective to read but not harmful. In short, most biochemical sensors have a delivery problem.

Part of the nanotechnology revolution was the development of nanoparticles, small shapes mostly of carbon that are no more than 1/100,000th of the thickness of human hair, i.e. about 1 nanometer in size. Carbon nanotubes are the most common type of nanoparticle, and as the word “tube” indicates, these are incredibly tiny rods with hollow centers.

Using Nanotubes as a Biomarker

It occurred very early on to researchers that it might be possible to put something in the tubes – medicine, for example – and use the tubes to deliver the medicine to very small, very targeted locations in the body. Continue Reading