38. Molecular Mop
A major problem in the identification of cancer biomarkers is the very low concentrations of markers coming from tissues with small, early-stage cancer lesions. Fortunately, investigators have found a new way to amplify and concentrate these biomarkers in the blood. When scientists searched for protein patterns in the serum of ovarian cancer patients, they came upon an interesting discovery. The albumin molecule and other long-lived carrier proteins that circulate in the bloodstream act as molecular mops, grabbing a lot of low-molecular-weight proteins as they are degraded and prepared for elimination from the blood. The "mop" actually helped them collect and amplify, more than 100-fold, the low-abundance serum protein patterns needed for analysis.