Transistor That Accurately Identifies Cancer Cell Markers

By Supriya Mangalpalli

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Researchers have developed a minimally invasive system based on ion-sensitive field effect transistors that can assess cancer-related markers using breast cancer cell lines

Transistor identifies cancer-related markers (Photo by Pixabay: https://www.pexels.com/photo/board-chip-circuit-circuit-board-459411/)

Traditional methods of detecting cancer-related markers are not accurate as these approaches do not adequately detect both epithelial and mesenchymal cell markers, which are essential to determine the cancer stage. Therefore, Tokyo Medical and Dental University (TMDU) researchers have developed a new technique to detect cancer-related markers using breast cancer cell lines. This eliminates the need for biopsies that were previously necessary to monitor the stages of cancer.

“Circulating tumor cells (CTCs), which are cancer cells found in the blood, are one of the main targets used to evaluate cancer patients’ blood samples,” states Miyuki Tabata, first author of the study. “However, it can be challenging to isolate these cells from the blood, and current approaches do not adequately detect both epithelial cell and mesenchymal cell markers, which are important for determining the stage of cancer.”

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The researchers developed a system that can instantly and effortlessly detect cancer-related markers on CTCs (and potentially other factors in the blood), the researchers used an apparatus called an ion-sensitive field effect transistor (ISFET), which is a tiny electrical circuit that is activated by a change in pH. They coated these transistors with breast cancer cells and then added an antibody linked to a chemical reporter that causes a change in pH if the antibody recognizes the cells. They experimented with their system which proved the ISFET approach accurately identifies cancer-related marker expression on cells 

“We found that the chemical reporter glucose oxidase successfully detected the expression of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), a marker of poor cancer prognosis, on CTC membranes,” says Yuji Miyahara, senior author of the study. “Furthermore, the strength of the chemical signal correlated with the amount of EGFR expressed by the cells.”

These ISFETs can be fabricated into the size of a single cell and assembled into vast arrays, this technique has the potential to enable high-throughput analysis of cancer cells at single-cell resolution. Additionally, the use of multiple antibodies for the chemical enzyme detection step could enable the simultaneous analysis of multiple cancer-related markers.” These results prove that an ISFET-based system can efficiently assess patient cancer status based on liquid biopsy samples,” states Tabata.

-Click here for the Published Research Paper


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