Stanford chemists find ultra-sensitive test for HIV, cancer

A team of chemists from Stanford University recently discovered a new, ultrasensitive test that can detect cancer or HIV infections, suggesting that the test is significantly more sensitive than current technologies.

Now the new test is being tried in real-world clinical trials.

One of the main challenges in modern medicine is finding a disease early enough to implement efficient treatments. This means that the patient must be screened at the correct time, with tests and technologies that are able to detect miniscule signs that diseases are in the blood stream.

Diseases like HIV spread through the body while the immune system generates antibodies against the illness. Finding these biomarkers is an approach that scientists can use to detect a disease in the body.

Inside a lab belonging to Carolyn Bertozzi, a chemistry professor at Stanford, the chemists created a molecule to bond with the biomarker. This flags the biomarker, signaling that there is a disease in the system.

"This is spiritually related to a basic science tool we were developing to detect protein modifications," Peter Robinson, a co-author on the study and graduate student in Bertozzi's group, said. "But we realized that the core principles were pretty straightforward and that the approach might be better served as a diagnostic tool."

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