A few days ago, we talked about how scientists are devising gold nanoparticles that can detect breast cancer at an earlier stage. And, this time around, we have come across MIT physicist Sangeeta Bhatia’s fascinating project that dabbles with other kinds of synthetic nanoparticles that can be actually ‘eaten’ with yogurt. And, what would be the advantage – you ask? Well, these cancer-detecting nanoparticles can account for a pain-free, less-invasive detection of colorectal cancer, which completely eschews the need for those physically obtrusive colonoscopy tests.
The ambit of Bhatia’s project is pretty simple in its working scope – the ingested nanoparticle can merge with the cancerous cell inside the patient’s body to generate a biomarker. These biomarkers will come out via the urine sample, which the doctors can check for potentially detecting the advent of cancer at an early stage. In fact, the procedure is partly based on an earlier research done by the same scientist, and that entailed the collection of the broken nanoparticles by the kidney – which would then be excreted for detection of tumors inside the body.
The interesting part is how the nanoparticles are envisaged to be added to the yogurt substrate. To that end, Bhatia has thought of completely forgoing the direct addition of nanoparticle biomarkers to the food item. Instead, the modification of the bacterial components in the yogurt can lead to the self-production of nanoparticles needed for the entire process. In other words, the yogurt will have the capacity to generate the cancer-detecting biomarkers, as opposed to external biomarkers being combined to the substrate in a cumbersome manner.
And, the good news is – we might very well see the technology at the commercial front, once the testing phases are concluded. In that regard, Bhatia is looking forth to distribute the special yogurt specimens to developing countries. This certainly alludes to the conscientious cancer-detection technique that will presumably come cheaper than the invasive and costly conventional methods.