A team of researchers from the University of Central Florida have developed a blood test that uses gold nanoparticles to show whether someone is at a higher risk of developing prostate cancer and potentially other types of cancer.
The study was published in the journal of Applied Materials and Interfaces and funded by the Department of Defense Prostate Cancer Research Program.
The team is still in the early stages of developing the test. The blood test is simple, inexpensive and quick. Researchers hope that the test will one day be available in doctors’ offices and drugstores.
Prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers among men in the United States. More than 220,000 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer and nearly 27,500 will succumb to it this year alone. According to the American Cancer Society, about 3 million men living today have had a prostate cancer diagnosis at some point.
Gold nanoparticles are used broadly in biomedicine because of their strong light-scattering properties, making them easy to track. When the gold particles are mixed with blood they attract proteins including antibodies that are even smaller. Some of these antibodies are formed as a result of the body’s immune response to early-stage tumors.
When a certain chemical was added to the mixture, the gold nanoparticles that had tumor-specific antibodies clumped together, creating larger clusters, which were detected and measured in a device the size of a large laptop. These clusters were not found in the samples taken from individuals without cancer.
This test would be a screening test for people 45 years and older. If researchers are able to detect unusual immune activity and a patient is not really sick, but the risk of having cancer is high.