Diagnosing lung cancer with a graphene biosensor

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Could a graphene biosensor hold the key to advanced, early stage lung cancer diagnosis?

The University of Exeter has developed a new technique which could create a graphene biosensor, which is highly sensitive and capable of detecting molecules of common lung cancer biomarkers.

Lung cancer

Lung cancer is one of the most common and aggressive cancer types. Approximately 1.4 million people each year die from lung cancer worldwide. However, the lack of clinical symptoms in the early stages means that patients are not diagnosed until the later stages meaning it is difficult to cure.

How is the graphene used as a detector for biomarkers?

Existing electronic nose (e-nose) devices identify components of a vapour mixture, such as a person’s breath and analyse the chemical composition to determine a cause. The new graphene biosensor design could revolutionise this process, as it may be able to identify lung cancer markers at the earliest possible stage while being convenient and resuable. This could make it a cost-effective and beneficial tool for health service providers across the globe.

In the study, the team found that greater sensing capabilities of the three most common lung cancer biomarkers, which are ethanol, isopropanol and acetone, using patterned multi-layered graphene electrodes.

Ben Hogan, a postgraduate researcher from the University of Exeter and co-author of the paper commented: “The new biosensors which we have developed show that graphene has significant potential for use as an electrode in e-nose devices. For the first time, we have shown that with suitable patterning graphene can be used as a specific, selective and sensitive detector for biomarkers.”

Hogan added: “We believe that with further development of our devices, a cheap, reusable and accurate breath test for early-stage detection of lung cancer can become a reality.”

“Multi-layer graphene as a selective detector for future lung cancer biosensing platforms” is published in the journal Nanoscale.

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