Armed with a novel biosensor that takes advantage of acoustic waves to detect tumour DNA, an EU-funded project could boost the precision and affordability of cancer prognosis and help make personalised treatment method a fact for more clients.


© Giovanni Cancemi #292099202 2020

Cancer is the next most frequent cause of death around the world. There were being nine.six million cancer-related deaths in 2018 – amounting to a single in 6 deaths – and this quantity is predicted to rise by 70 % above the subsequent two many years.

When it comes to cancer prognosis and monitoring, a non-invasive technique regarded as liquid biopsy has the potential to outperform common approaches these types of as good-tissue biopsies, ultrasound scans and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). With a very simple blood test, liquid biopsies recognize DNA released from cancer cells to reveal a huge assortment of details about the tumour. However, the procedure is rarely employed for prognosis mainly because it stays laborious, inefficient and reasonably costly.

Enter the EU-funded Catch-U-DNA project. The researchers associated have devised a new liquid biopsy technique, which could pave the way to more accurate prognosis and decrease the have to have for invasive good-tissue biopsies.

The novel and extremely-delicate technologies platform could also be employed to monitor clients more reliably and cost”effectively, therefore paving the way in the direction of more personalised treatment method.

‘We’ve targeted on detecting of the BRAF-V600E issue mutation, which is presented in several cancer varieties and has substantial medical significance for personalised therapy,’ says project coordinator Electra Gizeli of the Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology at FORTH in Greece.

‘Our tactic efficiently and reliably detects a single molecule of genomic DNA carrying this mutation in 10 000 normal DNA molecules – all in about two hours from sample to end result.’

Sounding out a new technique

Currently, blood serum gathered in a liquid biopsy ought to endure polymerase chain reaction (PCR) in get to amplify uncommon, tiny fragments of tumour DNA (ctDNA) to the issue at which they can be detected.

The Catch-U-DNA platform identifies ctDNA working with the extremely delicate allele-distinct polymerase chain reaction (AS-PCR) assay, which only amplifies fragments of DNA that include the goal mutation.

Scientists mixed this assay with their new acoustic wave biosensor, designed to detect tiny quantities of ctDNA and ready to analyse numerous samples all through each operate. The amplified ctDNA is immobilised on the biosensor, main to the subsequent binding of liposomes (employed to have medicines or other substances into system tissues) on the device’s area. It is this occasion that alters the acoustic signal and announces the detection of goal DNA.

This process of sensing goal DNA – which avoids the have to have for costly optical areas employed for common detection working with fluorescence – is the central innovation of the Catch-U-DNA project.

Proving the basic principle

‘We’re at the moment in the process of validating the technologies working with tissue and plasma samples from melanoma, colorectal and lung cancer clients obtained by our medical lover, the University of Crete,’ says Gizeli.

‘Results so much are really promising. In the coming months, we’ll total our validation experiments of detecting ctDNA from patients’ samples and inside of the context of liquid biopsy.’

As the developer of the new acoustic platform and sensor array, AWSensors in Spain has plans to commercialise the technologies for even more laboratory investigation, as effectively as for use in the medical subject.

The project comes under the FET Open up Horizon 2020 programme which supports early-stage science and technologies investigation into radically new future technologies.