U.K. team concocts rapid approach for colorectal cancer biomarker detection

U.K. scientists came up with a way to more efficiently detect a crucial colorectal cancer biomarker. They've even created a new word to describe the diagnostic process: "spinostics."

The London Centre for Nanotechnology came up with the biosensing assay, along with peers at University College London, which itself is a partner in the LCN along with Imperial College London. Details are published in Nature Scientific Reports.

Beyond colorectal cancer, scientists behind the research say the approach should help accelerate the development of rapid in vitro diagnostics assays to more precisely detect and measure the extent of various diseases. They also tout the new process as enabling measurement of the colon cancer biomarker in whole human blood or other complex media without having to remove red blood cells first. In other words, the diagnostics process becomes simpler, and it took about 15 minutes, the researchers explain.

The team's research involved the detection of carcinoembryonic antigen, or CEA, a colorectal cancer biomarker involved in cell adhesion that can be found in blood when the cancer has established itself.

Basically, the concept involves using antibodies to detect biomolecules. For the trial, they modified an antibody fragment (Anti-CEA sscFV) by adding a nitroxide molecule "spin label" that features an unpaired electron and then joins with a biomolecule, the researchers explain. This sets in motion a process that enables diagnostic detection of the biomarker. Once the antibody fragment binds to the CEA biomarker, the fragment's tumbling motion slows down. And then electronic spin resonance, or ESR, can be used to detect the end result and spot the colon cancer biomarker--"spinostics" accomplished.

Vishal Sanchania, one of the study's lead authors, said in a statement that 'spinostics' will enable "the generation of a vast library of ESR in vitro diagnostics assays, with great future promise for immunoassays."

- read the release
- here's the journal article

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