Gold stars in ultrasensitive biomarker test

Researchers from the U.K. and Spain have used gold nanostars to create an ultrasensitive test for biomarkers. This has potential to pick up disease at its very earliest stages, when levels of markers are very low. The research focuses on prostate cancer biomarker prostate-specific antigen (PSA), finding traces of the marker at blood concentrations 9 orders of magnitude lower than tests currently in use, and the test has potential in a range of diseases including AIDS, where early detection can improve the outcome, or even halt the progression of the disease. Professor Molly Stevens of Imperial College London described the search for early signs of disease as looking for a needle in a haystack: "Our new test can actually find that needle. We only looked at the biomarker for one disease in this study, but we're confident that the test can be adapted to identify many other diseases at an early stage." Press release | Abstract