Cancer cases and related deaths have surged in recent years. Earlier detection of cancerous cells is undoubtedly one of the most effective means of reducing cancer-related deaths. At present, a combined advent of imaging techniques and morphological analysis of malicious cells and tissues have been used for clinical detection of cancer. However, these methods are cumbersome and not effective for early-stage cancer detection and rapid drug screening. For point-of-care applications, on the other hand, the detection of cancer must be rapid, simple, and cost-effective. To this end, task-specific protein sensors, such as bio-optical sensors, have been identified as a promising solution.
One recent example of such bio-optical sensors is a noninvasive technique developed by Australian researchers at The University of Sydney: Dr. Mohammadreza Behi, Dr. Sina Naficy, and Professor Fariba Dehghani together with Dr. Rona Chandrawati from The University of New South Wales. In this technology, Australian researchers developed a nanoassembled peptide biosensor for early-stage and rapid detection of matrilysin, a salivary gland cancer biomarker. Specifically, this biosensing platform is based on matrilysin-digestible peptides that bridge gold nanoparticle cores and carbon quantum dot satellites. The gold nanoparticles used in the biosensors are low dimensional materials which can be traced by fluorescent signals from the ultraviolet to visible spectrum range. Upon interaction with the target biomarker, the architecture of the nanoassembled peptide biosensor was disrupted resulting in the disassembling of carbon quantum dots and gold nanoparticles. The release of gold nanoparticles produced measurable optical signals with fluorescence quenching effects. Since the disruption of the biosensors was directly caused by the digestion of the peptide by the matrilysin cancer biomarker, the detected optical signal was proportional to the concentration of the cancer biomarker. The authors found that using the nanoassembled peptide biosensor achieved a remarkable rapid response time of approximately 30 sec with a detection limit of as low as 30 nM, desirable for selective and rapid detection of matrilysin cancer biomarker. Their work is currently published in the research journal, Small.
Furthermore, it is worth noting the approach is versatile and may be applied for ultra-quick and selective optical monitoring of other specific cancer biomarkers by replacing the bridging peptide with other task-specific peptides.
In summary, the study presented an intelligent nanoassembled peptide biosensor for the rapid detection of cancerous cells. In this novel approach, the biosensing platform was assembled stepwise on the gold nanoparticle surface. The results showed that the synthesized nanobiosensing platform successfully detected the matrilysin cancer biomarkers with a rapid response time within 30 sec and a detection limit as low as 30 nM. In a statement to the Advances in Engineering, the authors highlighted that the designed nanostructure may be used for the detection of different diseases by only modifying the peptide sequence. This process may lead to the development of universal detection platforms for certain target diseases as well as controlled drug delivery or rapid drug testing. The research team hope their new innovative nano-biosensor will contribute to better diagnosis products and ultimately reduced mortality rate due to cancer.
Behi, M., Naficy, S., Chandrawati, R., & Dehghani, F. (2020). Nanoassembled Peptide Biosensors for Rapid Detection of Matrilysin Cancer Biomarker. Small, 16(16), 1905994.