Armed with a novel biosensor that employs acoustic waves to detect tumour DNA, an EU-funded undertaking could boost the precision and affordability of cancer prognosis and enable make personalised treatment a reality for additional clients.


© Giovanni Cancemi #292099202 source:stock.adobe.com 2020

Cancer is the 2nd most frequent cause of loss of life worldwide. There have been nine.six million cancer-similar fatalities in 2018 – amounting to a person in six fatalities – and this variety is predicted to rise by 70 % around the upcoming two many years.

When it comes to cancer prognosis and monitoring, a non-invasive technique identified as liquid biopsy has the probable to outperform conventional techniques this sort of as sound-tissue biopsies, ultrasound scans and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). With a basic blood exam, liquid biopsies establish DNA produced from cancer cells to reveal a extensive vary of data about the tumour. Nevertheless, the method is rarely employed for prognosis mainly because it remains laborious, inefficient and relatively high-priced.

Enter the EU-funded Catch-U-DNA undertaking. The researchers concerned have devised a new liquid biopsy technique, which could pave the way to additional correct prognosis and reduce the need for invasive sound-tissue biopsies.

The novel and extremely-delicate technological know-how platform could also be employed to keep track of clients additional reliably and cost”effectively, therefore paving the way in direction of additional personalised treatment.

‘We’ve focused on detecting of the BRAF-V600E place mutation, which is introduced in several cancer forms and has substantial scientific importance for personalised treatment,’ suggests undertaking coordinator Electra Gizeli of the Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology at FORTH in Greece.

‘Our method successfully and reliably detects a single molecule of genomic DNA carrying this mutation in ten 000 typical DNA molecules – all in about two hours from sample to result.’

Sounding out a new technique

Presently, blood serum collected in a liquid biopsy will have to undertake polymerase chain response (PCR) in get to amplify unusual, tiny fragments of tumour DNA (ctDNA) to the place at which they can be detected.

The Catch-U-DNA platform identifies ctDNA making use of the extremely delicate allele-particular polymerase chain response (AS-PCR) assay, which only amplifies fragments of DNA that have the concentrate on mutation.

Researchers put together this assay with their new acoustic wave biosensor, made to detect tiny amounts of ctDNA and equipped to analyse various samples for the duration of each individual operate. The amplified ctDNA is immobilised on the biosensor, major to the subsequent binding of liposomes (employed to have drugs or other substances into overall body tissues) on the device’s surface area. It is this party that alters the acoustic sign and announces the detection of concentrate on DNA.

This system of sensing concentrate on DNA – which avoids the need for high-priced optical parts employed for conventional detection making use of fluorescence – is the central innovation of the Catch-U-DNA undertaking.

Proving the theory

‘We’re at the moment in the procedure of validating the technological know-how making use of tissue and plasma samples from melanoma, colorectal and lung cancer clients acquired by our scientific associate, the College of Crete,’ suggests Gizeli.

‘Results so far are really promising. In the coming months, we’ll full our validation scientific studies of detecting ctDNA from patients’ samples and within just the context of liquid biopsy.’

As the developer of the new acoustic platform and sensor array, AWSensors in Spain has programs to commercialise the technological know-how for even more laboratory study, as very well as for use in the scientific subject.

The undertaking comes beneath the FET Open up Horizon 2020 programme which supports early-phase science and technological know-how study into radically new foreseeable future technologies.