Portable test devices 'can detect cancer in blood'

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BLOOD tests for cancer and other diseases could be carried out in minutes using a revolutionary microchip detector.

Scientists have successfully tested the technology for the first time to detect biomarkers for prostate and breast cancer.

The device uses arrays of tiny "nanosensors" that catch specific proteins in blood.

It could be developed to test for numerous conditions ranging from cancers to heart disease at the same time.

"Doctors could have these small, portable devices in their offices and get nearly instant readings," said Dr Tarek Fahmy, a member of the US development team at Yale University. "They could also carry them into the field and test patients on-site."

Often patients have to wait several days to get their results. The new microchip can deliver bio-marker readings in a matter of minutes.

"The advantage of this technology is that it takes the same effort to make a million devices as it does to make just one. We've brought the power of modern microelectronics to cancer detection."

The research is reported today in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.