Researchers at the University of Florida have created a point-of-care biosensor that can rapidly detect a biomarker for oral cancer. The device uses test strips, such as those used in blood glucose tests, to spot cell proliferation regulating inhibitor of protein phosphatase 2A (CIP2A), a protein biomarker that can reveal the presence of oral cancer. The device requires a liquid sample that is introduced to the end of the test strip, where it runs into channels that contain antibody-covered electrodes. The antibodies are specific for CIP2A, and antibody binding changes the electrical signal the electrodes produce, providing a readout if the protein is present. The technology could be useful in low resource or remote regions where access to conventional lab testing equipment is not available.
If oral cancers can be detected early, then the prognosis is frequently quite good. For instance, the researchers behind this latest technology report that oral cancers that are localized and approximately 2 centimeters or less in size can readily be treated and the corresponding five-year survival rates are over 90%. Moreover, such cancers are readily accessible in the oral cavity for clinicians to investigate and view them. These malignancies are therefore good candidates for a point-of-care diagnostic device that could be used in remote locations that do not have ready access to conventional diagnostics. “Oral squamous cell carcinomas are one of the most common lip and oral cavity cancer types,” said Minghan Xian, a researcher involved in the study. “It requires early detection via various medical technologies to improve the survival rate. While most detection techniques for oral squamous cell carcinoma require histological testing in a lab to confirm the presence of cancer and cancer type, a point-of-care detection technique is preferred for on-site use and a quick result readout.” The device includes electrodes that are covered in antibodies against CIP2A, providing a quick change in an electrical signal when the biomarker binds. In testing so far, the device proved to be highly sensitive, beating other detection techniques previously reported in the literature. “Typically, test fluid is introduced into a small liquid channel on the tip of the sensor strips,” said Xian. “A few electrodes sit within the liquid channel, and the surface of these electrodes contain antibodies to specific proteins present within human oral cancer lesions. Short electrode pulses get sent through these electrodes during detection, and then the circuit board module analyzes this signal and outputs a four-digit number that correlates to its concentration.” Study in Journal of Vacuum Science & Technology B: High sensitivity CIP2A detection for oral cancer using a rapid transistor-based biosensor module Conn Hastings Conn Hastings received a PhD from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland for his work in drug delivery, investigating the potential of injectable hydrogels to deliver cells, drugs and nanoparticles in the treatment of cancer and cardiovascular diseases. After achieving his PhD and completing a year of postdoctoral research, Conn pursued a career in academic publishing, before becoming a full-time science writer and editor, combining his experience within the biomedical sciences with his passion for written communication.