ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35 ORLANDO) - Scientists at the University of Central Florida think they've developed a simple test that can better detect prostate cancer. They're using one of the world's most precious metals to do it.
Dr. Treen Huo and her team of researchers at the University of Central Florida have been using gold nanoparticles to detect cancer.
“Believe or not it's actually very cheap!” said Huo said, who estimates that each test costs about a dollar.
The gold nanoparticle test may not cost a lot of money, but Huo and her team believe they've created something invaluable: a more accurate and effective tool for early detection of prostate cancer.
The researchers conducted two studies in collaboration with Florida Hospital and Prostate Cancer Biorespository Network sponsored by the Department of Defense.
"If we can do a better job in terms of detecting the cancer, doing the early detection then we can save more lives,” said Dr. Inoel Rivera, a urologist with the Florida Hospital Cancer Institute.
Doctors currently use a test called the PSA to screen for prostate cancer. The medicalcommunity widely acknowledges that the test is not very good at distinguishing prostate cancer from non-cancer prostate conditions.
Rivera said a better test would help reduce the number of unnecessary biopsies performed on patients.
"Having better tests will help you treat the ones who need treatment and avoid over treating the ones that don't need treatment,” Rivera said.
The UCF researchers say their test is accurate 90 percent of the time. It requires a pin-prick's worth of blood. In a matter of minutes the blood is processed and mixed with the gold nanoparticles.
The gold nanoparticles are easy to see with the right instruments and Huo said she discovered that the nanoparticles attach to biomarkers for tumors. So, if the nanoparticles change in size, the researcher knows that the patient should be further tested for cancer.
"With the price range I think most people will be able to afford to have this test be conducted once or twice a year,” Huo said.
There's more work to be done, but Huo said she thinks the test could one day be used to detect all kinds of cancer.