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Friday, 19 August 2011

Cancer detection using nanoparticle-based sensors

As reported in Chemical Society Reviews, a team of scientists led by ICREA Prof. Arben Merkoci from the Catalan Institute of Nanotechnology (ICN )in collaboration with Prof. Anthony Turner from Cranfield University, UK and Linköping University and Maelle Perfézou from Cranfield University, UK have reviewed the latest nanotechnology based cancer diagnostics which are increasingly offering relevant alternatives to traditional techniques.

A comprehensive review of the latest achievements in the use of nanoparticles to detect cancer biomarkers and cancer cells, with a focus on optical and electrochemical techniques, has just been published. Nanoparticle based cancer diagnostics are becoming increasingly relevant alternatives to traditional techniques. Although some drawbacks exist in relation to the sensitivity that can currently be obtained, the use of nanoparticle-based sensors in biomarker detection or cancer cell detection offers some other advantages in comparison to conventional methods. The techniques show particular potential for point-of-care cancer diagnostics, with most methods being low cost and readily incorporated into user-friendly sensing platforms.

A team of scientists led by ICREA Prof. Arben Merkoci from the Catalan Institute of Nanotechnology (ICN), in collaboration with Prof. Anthony Turner from Cranfield University (UK) and Linköping University (Sweden), and Maelle Perfézou, also from Cranfield University, have reviewed the latest nanotechnology-based methods for cancer diagnostics, which are increasingly offering relevant alternatives to traditional techniques.

Quantification of the concentration of cancer biomarkers in blood, tissues or serum at very high sensitivity is extremely important. Ideal tests should have very low detection limits (even at single biomolecule/cell level) and be able to detect several cancer biomarkers in a single test. The use of nanoparticle-based sensors in biomarker detection or cancer cell detection offers some advantages in comparison to conventional methods. First, the methods are potentially very low cost, if designed for mass production technology. Second, a very low quantity of the sample is needed, facilitating regular and widespread testing. Third, the materials and methods based on the use of nanoparticles can be easily incorporated into user-friendly devices. Furthermore, immunoassays using nanoparticles are very specific and sensitive. Nanoparticles can be conjugated to a specific antibody of the biomarker or of the protein overexpressed at the surface of cancer cells. This enhances the specificity and the sensitivity of the biosensor. Biosensors with nanoparticles are able to attach to biomarkers or cancer cells, even when these are in low concentration in the serum, at a very early stage of cancer.

The full article is available at the Chemical Society Reviews website: http://pubs.rsc.org/en/content/articlelanding/2012/CS/C1CS15134G