‘Velcro’ That Traps Prostate Cancer Cells

Scientists have developed an inexpensive detector that works like Velcro to capture prostate cancer cells on frosted glass slides, allowing for easy diagnosis.

AsianScientist (Jun. 18, 2018) – A research group in China has developed a sensor that acts like Velcro® for prostate cancer cells, trapping them on a modified frosted glass slide so that they can be identified from blood samples. The low-cost method, reported in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, could help doctors better diagnose and monitor the disease.

In men with prostate cancer, some tumor cells exit the prostate gland and circulate in the blood. Detecting these cells could enable diagnosis at an earlier stage or help doctors assess whether treatment is effective.

However, because circulating tumor cells are present in very small numbers, finding them can be a challenge. Previous sensors have been expensive and difficult to make. In the present study, scientists at the Chinese Academy of Sciences sought to develop a simpler, more cost-effective way to monitor prostate cancer cells in the blood.

The researchers based their device on frosted glass microscope slides, commonplace in high school science classes. The frosted area, which is used to hold and label the slide, is a sandblasted surface with tiny depressions. The researchers added a solution to the frosted slides that caused silica nanowires to grow on their surfaces.

They then attached antibodies that recognized prostate cancer cells to the nanowires. This caused circulating tumor cells in patient blood samples to become trapped in the depressions on the slide and tangled up within the nanowires, similar to the interlocking surfaces of Velcro®. The team could then visualize the cancer cells using a microscope.

The researchers reported that the device could detect as few as ten tumor cells in one milliliter of blood from prostate cancer patients, making it a simple, yet sensitive diagnostic.

The article can be found at: Cui et al. (2018) Frosted Slides Decorated with Silica Nanowires for Detecting Circulating Tumor Cells from Prostate Cancer Patients.


Source: American Chemical Society; Photo: Shutterstock.
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