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Can Rubber Gloves Be Used To Detect Cancer?

Cancer Rubber Gloves

It could be possible for medical staff to screen for breast cancer using specially designed rubber gloves, equipped with pressure sensors. A joint Japanese-U.S. project is investigating the possibility.

The idea is to create a pressure sensor able to detect variations in the skin on the micrometer scale. Breast cancer in the early stages can be hard to detect through physical examination, and other methods are invasive.

The solution for an improved physical examination is a nanofiber-type pressure sensor, designed to work across different shapes and over a small radius. The sensors are a combination of organic transistors, electronic switches (composed of carbon and oxygen organic materials), contained within a pressure sensitive nanofiber structure.

The nanofibers were formed from carbon nanotubes and graphene, contained within an elastic polymer. This created a transparent, light and porous material. Graphene is a remarkable material: a one-atom thick sheet of carbon. The material is light, transparent, strong and very conductive. Graphene has been covered in a number of articles published by The Latest News.

A prototype glove has been constructed and this has been shown to measure the pressure in 144 locations simultaneously in laboratory tests. Tests included examining an artificial blood vessel. Here the prototype was found to detect both small pressure changes and the speed of pressure propagation.

The next stage is to carry out more tests and seek regulatory approval. The findings have yet to be reported to a peer reviewed journal.

About the author

Tim Sandle

Dr. Tim Sandle is a chartered biologist and holds a first class honours degree in Applied Biology; a Masters degree in education; and has a doctorate from Keele University.