The technique developed at Concordia University makes it possible to detect the cancer before a tumor forms.
A technique that can detect cancer at the nanoscale has been developed by Quebec scientists from Concordia University.
Pr Muthukumaran Packirisamy and doctoral student Srinivas Bathini explain that their so-called microfluidic technology, also called lab on a chip, uses magnetic particles to detect suspicious biomarkers even before the formation of a first tumor.
This technique makes it possible to establish a very early diagnosis of cancer, which can help us find therapeutic solutions and improve the lives of patients, explains in a press release Prof. Packirisamy, who is also director of Concordia's Optical Biomicrosystems Laboratory. .
By the time a person is diagnosed, the cancer is often at an advanced stage and has spread throughout the body as metastases.
This reality considerably reduces the chances of survival for patients.
The new method is based on a liquid biopsy which therefore incorporates lab-on-chip technology.
Using magnetic particles coated with a specially designed binding agent, the liquid biopsy chip somehow attracts and traps particles containing cancer-causing biomarkers, claim the authors of this work published in the journal Biosensors and Bioelectronics.
- Nearly half of Canadians will develop cancer in their lifetime and about a quarter will die from it.
- As many as 210,000 new cases of cancer are diagnosed and some 80,800 people die from it each year.
- Cancer kills 9 million a year worldwide.
The biopsy chip targets extracellular vesicles (EVs), a type of particle released by most organic cells and which act as intercellular messengers.
These vesicles are extremely small. They are usually only between 40 and 200 nanometers in size.
They do, however, carry a whole load of proteins, nucleic acids such as RNA, metabolites and other molecules from the parent cell, and are then taken up by other cells, the statement explains.
EVs can also contain biomarkers associated with cancer and spread their toxic cargo from cell to cell.
The chip therefore targets cancer-carrying exosomes. It contains magnetic or gold nanoparticles coated with a synthetic polypeptide which serve as a molecular binding agent.
Then, as soon as a droplet of organic liquid (blood, saliva , urine) comes into contact with the chip, the exosomes attach to the treated nanoparticles.
The researchers then separate them from the nanoparticles and carry out an analysis (proteomics and genomics) to determine the specific type of cancer.
Liquid biopsies avoid the trauma of invasive biopsies, which involve exploratory surgery, Packirisamy adds. We can get all the markers and prognoses of cancer just by analyzing any body fluid.
In this work, the researchers used breast cancer cells, but they would like to eventually create screening tests for other cancers.
Perhaps one day this product will be as easily accessible as other non-laboratory devices, such as tests pregnancy at home, hopes Srinivas Bathini.