Using sensory nanoparticles to detect disease, including cancer

An image to illustrate sensory nanoparticles which can be used to detect disease
© iStock/enot-poloskun

An innovative technique using sensory nanoparticles can be used to detect disease including cancer, according to a study from Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

Brigham and Women’s Hospital describes the sensory nanoparticles collecting a unique coating of proteins from the blood as like dipping a donut hole in powdered sugar.

The team showed that biomolecules in the blood of healthy individuals and patients form various corona profiles around nanoparticles. They also found that through advanced classification techniques detected by the nanoparticle sensor array, the selected pattern of corona composition provided a unique fingerprint for each type of cancer. They also tested the tool using blood from 15 people who were later diagnosed with brain, lung, and pancreatic cancer up to eight years later. They found that their approach was able to identify and discriminate the cancers at the very early stages.

Extending survival using early disease screening

Morteza Mahmoudi,PhD, is the paper’s corresponding author and former director of the nanobio interactions laboratory at Tehran University of Medical Sciences where he began this work in 2014. Mahmoudi explained: “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. 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’m in science is to do something that can help patients,” added 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.

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