A research team has developed a tumor-detecting chip using plasmonic gold nanoparticles and microwave technology, with their findings having the potential to be extended to preventive medicine and personalized medicine.
The team, led by National Chung Hsing University chemistry professor Lin Kuan-jiuh (林寬鋸), discovered that gold nanoparticles, when differently sized, exhibit different colors, which can be used to detect different target molecules, Lin told a news conference in Taipei on Wednesday.
Lin’s team developed a technique to embed and evenly distribute gold nanoparticles smaller than 10 nanometers on a glass surface by ionizing argon gas pumped into the cavity of gold particles, which are then attached to a glass surface using microwaves to make a molecule-detecting chip that can target certain biomarkers.
The team used household microwave ovens to reproduce the results, Lin said, adding that they conducted a high-tech study using low-tech equipment.
Traditionally, gold nanoparticle products are made with chemical solvents to apply fluidized particles on testing chips, but such products have lower stability and therefore lower potential to be mass produced and commercialized, he said.
The researchers used microwave technology because they discovered that carbon nanoparticles, when microwaved, emit white light and intensify the density of gas plasma, which yields more discernible results when used to monitor molecules and proteins.
In laboratory experimentation, the team developed a simple protocol to trace the biomarker of Parkinson’s disease and cancer cells, Lin said, adding that the chip could be used to detect tumors for surgical removal, which could be widely used in preventive medicine.
The testing protocol using the team’s testing chip is four times faster and consumes fewer materials than those using existing products, and it requires just one drop of blood to produce reliable test results, he said.
The chip could potentially be attached to smartphones or handheld devices to develop personal cloud-computing medical products, or could be used in remote areas where residents have no access to large medical testing equipment.
The production of the chip is cheaper than existing products to the extent that the chip could be used in disposable devices, thereby boosting commercialization opportunities, Lin said.