Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have engineered a chemical trap that exhaustively catches what are called glycoproteins, including minuscule traces that have previously escaped detection.
Glycoproteins are protein molecules bonded with sugar molecules, and they're very common in all living things. Glycoproteins come in myriad varieties and sizes and make up important cell structures like cell receptors. They also wander around our bodies in secretions like mucus or hormones.
But some glycoproteins are very, very rare and can serve as an early signal, or biomarker, indicating there's something wrong in the body - like cancer. Existing methods to reel in glycoproteins for laboratory examination are relatively new and have had big holes in their nets, so many of these molecules, especially those very rare ones produced by cancer, have tended to slip by.
CREDIT Georgia Tech / Wu / Xiao & NYPL Digital Commons / Brumfield