A technique that can easily diagnose cancer with only a small amount of plasma has been developed. Unlike antibody-based technology that diagnoses individual cancers, it can be used as a complementary technology to existing cancer diagnosis because it can diagnose various types of cancer at a time.
The Institute of Basic Science (IBS) Center for Soft and Living Matter announced on June 20 that its research team led by Cho Yoon-kyung (UNIST professor) developed a platelet chip that can detect cancer by capturing “nano-vesicles” containing cell information in plasma.
Human body cells exchange nano-vesicles to communicate. In the research community, there have been studies that diagnose cancer development and metastasis by analyzing the nano-vesicles released by cancer cells, but there have been limitations in selectively separating cancer-inducingvesicles from a number of nano-vesicles.
The team focused on the platelets, which are helpers of cancer cells. Cancer cells move through the blood surrounded by platelets to hide their identity. It is also known that platelets help cells stick to the metastasis site.
Using a special interaction between the cancer cell nano-vesicles and the platelets, the research team created a diagnostic system that easily captures cancer-derived nano-vesicles.
The team created a platelet chip, in which a platelet membrane is fixed on the bottom of a microfluidic chip. The surface of the chip can selectively bind to cancer cells to selectively detect cancer cell-derived nano-vesicles.
When the researchers injected 1 micrometer (㎕) of plasma from cancer patients and healthy control, theydetected a large amount of nano-vesicles in the cancer patients’ plasma. In addition, more nano-vesicles were detected in the metastatic cancer cells thanin the non-metastatic cancer cells.
The researchers explained that the number of nano-vesicles detected on the platelet chip can be used to diagnose cancer development and metastasis.
"It is meaningful that we have detected nano-vesicles from cancer cells by mimicking the affinity of platelets and cancer cells," said Cho. "Even though we used the plasma without complicated treatment, we succeeded in detecting cancer cell-derived nano-vesicles in a very small amount of sample," Cho added.
The results of this study were published as a cover paper in international journal “Advanced Functional Materials” on May 27.