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Magnetic Nanoparticles May Aid in Rapid Cancer Detection

Authors discuss sensor that has detection sensitivity comparable to clinical methods

MONDAY, July 27 (HealthDay News) -- A biosensor using nanoparticles that offers rapid detection of cancer cells may prove to be useful for the early detection of the disease, according to research published online July 20 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Hakho Lee, Ph.D., of Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, and colleagues discuss an updated diagnostic magnetic resonance (DMR) sensor they developed that uses magnetic nanoparticles and an analytical protocol to assess the expression of tumor molecular markers.

The authors tested their system on fine-needle aspirates from xenograft tumors in mice. The system showed detection sensitivities equaling those achieved with flow cytometry and Western blot analysis, but the assay required only a fraction of time -- less than 15 minutes -- and fewer cells. The researchers were able to detect even two cells in a 1-μL volume.

"Although we focused our study on sensing major cell surface receptors, the DMR assay can be expanded to accommodate more targets or to interrogate complex cancer signatures. For example, it can be adapted to probe intracellular markers, signaling pathways, and the presence of key cytokines. With such capabilities, DMR can be further applied to monitor malignancy progression, metastases, or therapy resistance in personalized patient care," the authors conclude.

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