Breast cancer diagnosis breakthrough at Porto’s ISEP

Investigators at Porto’s ISEP (institute of superior engineering) have developed a ‘colorimetric device on paper’ which, with a simple drop of a patient’s blood, can detect “within minutes” whether they have a certain kind of breast cancer.

ISEP’s Mariana Pinto Sousa explains: “right now we have an immense number of diagnostic and screening tools, it is just that these tools take time and can be invasive, like mammograms, where there is always radiation involved”.

Thus the impetus for something ‘better’ – and here comes a first solution requiring just the prick of a patient’s finger to determine whether or not a determined sub-type of breast cancer is at play.

For now, we’re not really told which sub-type investigators have started with.

Says Mariana Pinto Sousa, “at a more advanced phase we could use other bio-markers to screen for other sub-types of cancer”.

The objective (the whole point of the research) is that a rapid, easy to use and non-invasive technique can be used ‘en masse’ in screening programmes, or in the monitoring of patients, that will ultimately save millions in terms of money, as well as time (which translates into helping to save lives).

For now, the research continues. “Within a few months the technique will start being tested out on cancer patients, in collaboration with CHUSJ (the São João university hospital centre).

The technique was developed thanks to the €10,000 Rubina Barros research grant, destined to fund young investigators in the field of oncology. Aside from investigators of ISEP’s BioMark group, the new biossensor was developed in partnership with LabMI and Porto university’s medicine faculty (FMUP), writes website

[email protected]