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Gold-Coated Sensor Could Can Track Tumor Size Changes and Reshape Cancer Drug Discovery


Stanford University engineers have designed a sensor that can wrap around a tumor and measure tumor growth or contraction in real time – a step forward for researchers to evaluate therapeutic drugs cancer treatment and may one day even monitor the progression of cancer in real time.

When scientists identify promising candidates for cancer drugs, early-stage trials often involve treating immunocompromised mice that develop large tumors. These mice were given the drug and observed over time to measure the drug’s ability to reduce the size or slow the growth of their tumors. But according to Alex Abramson, a chemical and biomolecular engineer at Georgia Tech who did the research recently while at Stanford, these measurements are often made by hand and are not always accurate. In addition, tools such as calipers can only measure two dimensions of a three-dimensional tumor, leading to further inaccuracies.

The FAST system measures tumor size regression.

Alex Abramson, Bao Group, Stanford University

Abramson and his colleagues have designed a battery-powered device with a flexible sensor that hugs the skin of a mouse to measure the circumference of a tumor, announcing initial testing of their new design. on friday in the magazine Scientific advance. A layer of conductive gold coats the sensor: If a tumor expands, the sensor expands and tiny cracks form in the gold, reducing the sensor’s conductivity. If a tumor shrinks, these cracks close, restoring conductivity. The full sensor kit costs about $60 to build and only takes a few minutes to put on the mouse. Then, instead of a researcher making daily measurements, the device can send a continuous signal to a mobile phone app.

When they compared their device to a caliper and another method of charting tumor growth and contraction, the researchers found that continuous monitoring of the sensor detected tumor volume reduction caused by one cancer drug before either of the other two methods.

“It’s a simple design, but these inherent advantages will be of great interest to the pharmaceutical and oncology communities,” Abramson said in a press release. The researchers wrote in this paper that the method could replace techniques currently used to measure tumors in clinical trials, unlocking a wealth of real-time data that could aid Basic cancer research.



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