MOSCOW (TIP): Researchers have developed a highly sensitive nanomechanical sensor that can detect cancerous tumours as well as viral disease markers for HIV, hepatitis and herpes.

Researchers from Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (MIPT) developed the ultracompact nanomechanical sensor for analysing the chemical composition of substances and detecting biological objects.

The sensor can detect viral disease markers, which appear when the immune system responds to incurable or hard-to-cure diseases, including HIV, hepatitis, herpes, and many others.

The sensor will also enable doctors to identify tumour markers, whose presence in the body signals the emergence and growth of cancerous tumours.

The highly sensitive sensor will allow for diagnosing diseases long before they can be detected by any other method, which will pave the way for a new-generation of diagnostics, researchers said.

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Calculations done by the researchers, Dmitry Fedyanin and Yury Stebunov, showed that the new sensor will combine high sensitivity with a comparative ease of production and miniature dimensions, allowing it to be used in all portable devices, such as smartphones, wearable electronics, etc.

One chip, several millimetres in size, will be able to accommodate several thousand such sensors, configured to detect different particles or molecules, researchers said.

The device, described in a study published in the journal Scientific Reports, is an optical or, more precisely, optomechanical chip.

“We’ve been following the progress made in the development of micro- and nanomechanical biosensors for quite a while now and can say that no one has been able to introduce a simple and scalable technology for parallel monitoring that would be ready to use outside a laboratory,” the researchers said.

“So our goal was not only to achieve the high sensitivity of the sensor and make it compact, but also make it scalable and compatible with standard microelectronics technologies,” researchers said.

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