Nanotech Database

Article Title:
Dr. Nanotech Vs. Cancer

Ball, Philip

Journal Information:
Technology Review (MIT)
Vol. 108, Num. 2


James Heath, a physical chemist at the California Institute of Technology, is working on a nano-size sensor for cancer. He believes that "banks of ultrasmall silicon wires, each made to detect a specific cancer-related protein could be the basis for cancer tests that are more accurate [and] cheaper and more convenient." (60) Heath and his lab are pioneering nanosensors that will be able to detect cancer using, for instance, only a drop of blood. Cancer is detected through the conductivity of coated nanowires: the presence or absence of cancer-related proteins shut down the electron flow (open or close the circuit). A cancer diagnosis could be made "automatically, in a few seconds or minutes on just a handful of cells and their contents." (62)