Direct sensing of cancer biomarkers in clinical samples with a designed nanopore

Journal: Chemical Communications

Published: 2017-10-19

DOI: 10.1039/c7cc06775e

Affiliations: 1

Authors: 5

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Research Highlight

Pores for thought in cancer diagnosis

© GIPhotoStock/Image Source/Getty

© GIPhotoStock/Image Source/Getty

Cancer diagnosis could be quick, easy and portable thanks to DNA-filled nanopores. 

Fast, cheap and early diagnosis is a major goal in cancer research. One approach uses membranes with nanometre-sized pores that pick up molecules released by the tumour. Big molecules, however, such as proteins and enzymes, can block the nanopores. 

A team including researchers from the East China University of Science and Technology made a nanopore membrane containing fragments of DNA designed to attract PSA, a common molecular marker of prostate cancer, and added a filter to prevent other molecules reaching the membrane. They applied an electric current to the membrane, which was blocked when a PSA molecule entered a pore, causing a blip in the signal. The membrane could detect minuscule concentrations of PSA in blood samples within 30 minutes. 

These membranes could be used in portable devices for on-the-spot testing for cancer, increasing the chance of early diagnosis.

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  1. Chemical Communications 53, 11564-11567 (2017) doi: 10.1039/C7CC06775E
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East China University of Science and Technology (ECUST), China 1