Super-Sensor Spots Cancer Markers

Logan Streu, ECS Content Associate & Assistant to the CCO, recently came across this article detailing an electrochemical device’s life saving potential in cancer treatment.

A new electrochemical sensor is paving the way for quick and affordable “liquid biopsies,” opening the possibility of detecting deadly cancer markers in minutes. This new development could help tailor treatments to specific patients and improve the accuracy of initial diagnosis.

Personalized medicine is a huge part of a new, promising future in cancer treatment. With the ability to tailor treatment to each individual tumor, treatments can become more effective and yield less side-effects.

In an effort to get closer to the ultimate goal of tailored cancer treatment, Shana Kelley and her team at the University of Toronto joined forces with a researcher from the Montreal Children’s Hospital in Quebec to develop the new electrochemical super-sensor.

This from Chemistry World:

The researchers functionalized the electrode tips with a peptide that would bind to nucleic acids containing the most common KRAS mutation. They then exposed the sensors to a solution containing the mutant KRAS nucleic acids, normal nucleic acids and six nucleic acids with rarer mutations in the same gene. After 15 minutes, the researchers found that, in the presence of the nucleic acids with the target mutation – even at concentrations as low as 1 femtogram per microlitre – the potential dropped significantly. In a control solution without this mutation, no significant change occurred. They also showed that, when functionalized with a different peptide, the nano-electrodes could detect mutations in the BRAF gene associated with melanoma.

Read the full article here.

While initial testing of the sensor is promising, the researchers plan on testing many more samples to further illuminate its versatility and efficiency.

The researchers hope that one day the sensor will go beyond its current limits and make its way into treatment monitoring and screening of healthy patients.

Want to find out more about the potential of electrochemical sensors? Head over to the Digital Library and check out some of the best papers on the topic.

PS: Don’t forget to check out our Microfluidics, MEMS/NEMS, Sensors and Devices Focus Issue!

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