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Novel Nanoparticle Sensor Array Detects Early Stages of Cancer

By Labmedica International staff writers
Posted on 01 Jul 2019
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Image: Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) image showing the formation of biom2olecular corona around the surface of nanoparticles (Photo courtesy of Dr. Morteza Mahmoudi, Brigham and Women\'s Hospital).
Image: Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) image showing the formation of biom2olecular corona around the surface of nanoparticles (Photo courtesy of Dr. Morteza Mahmoudi, Brigham and Women\'s Hospital).
A feasibility study demonstrated the potential of a novel liposome-enhanced nanoparticle sensor array to detect various cancers at early stages of development.

Earlier studies by investigators at Brigham and Women's Hospital (Boston, MA, USA) had shown that when nanoparticles were incubated in blood, biomolecules formed various protein corona (a layer of biomolecules that formed at the surface of the nanoparticles upon their interactions with biological fluids) around the nanoparticles. Furthermore, various diseases experienced by the blood donor could substantially affect the composition or profile of the protein corona.

In the current study, the investigators combined the concepts of disease-specific protein corona with sensor array technology to develop a platform with disease detection capacity using blood plasma. The sensor array consisted of three cross-reactive liposomes, with distinct lipid composition and surface charge. Rather than detecting a specific biomarker, the sensor array provided pattern recognition of the corona protein composition adsorbed on the liposomes.

In a feasibility study, sensor array validation was performed using plasma samples obtained from patients diagnosed with five different cancer types (lung cancer, glioblastoma, meningioma, myeloma, and pancreatic cancer) and a control group of healthy donors. Although no single corona composition was specific for any one type of cancer, overlapping but distinct patterns of the corona composition constituted a unique “fingerprint” for each type of cancer with high classification accuracy (99.4%).

To probe the capacity of this sensor array for early detection of cancers, the investigators used plasma obtained from 15 healthy people who were subsequently diagnosed up to eight years later with lung, brain, or pancreatic cancers. Results showed that the protein corona-nanoparticle method could identify and discriminate the cancers at very early stages.

"For cancer and many other catastrophic diseases, the earlier you can diagnose, the more likely you can treat and extend survival and attain better quality of life," said senior author Dr. Morteza Mahmoudi, assistant professor of nanomedicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital. "The goal here is to develop a strategy to help people get better information about their health. Today, in the clinic, we have ways to measure lipids and predict risk of cardiovascular disease, but limited ways for cancer. If everything goes well, we hope our work will lead to a screening test for the earliest signs of cancer.

"The only reason I am in science is to do something that can help patients," said Dr. Mahmoudi. "When I see predictions about cancer, the number of new cases each year, and its global burden, it excites me to think that our multidisciplinary expertise in nanobio interfaces, sensor array, and advanced statistics may offer a way to help. There is so much potential here and we are working to tap into it."

The paper was published in the June 17, 2019, online edition of the journal Nanoscale Horizons.

Related Links:
Brigham and Women's Hospital

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Image: A blood film showing neutrophils and lymphocytes and other white and red blood cells, and a platelet (Photo courtesy of University of Minnesota).

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