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A simple, inexpensive acoustic sensor could help detect cancer in its earliest and most curable stages, developers of a new device say. The ACuRay (acoustic microarray) chip detects small amounts of mesothelin, a molecule associated with many types of cancer, in a blood sample.


The device is similar to sonar. Molecules in blood resonate at a high rate. When those that the device is trying to detect bind to its surface, they slow down; the sensor detects this change in frequency.


Researchers say the device, which is still in development, may also be capable of detecting environmental hazards and bioterror agents. They reported their findings at a meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research in Atlanta, Ga., in September.