Researchers develop a nanowire device to detect cancer through 1ml of urine

Intercellular communication occurs through many different mechanisms. Some of these mechanisms are well known: in animals, for example, predatory threats can drive the release of norepinephrine, a hormone that triggers heart and muscle cells into a “fight or flight” response through blood flow status.

One type of intercellular transport that may be less familiar is through extracellular vesicles (EVs). EV can be thought of as a “small piece” produced by pinching in a cell, which performs the task of transmitting information between cells in the body. These messengers are now recognized as key mediators of intercellular communication.

Researchers from Nagoya University have developed a nanowire device that can detect trace levels of urine markers that may be involved in cancer.

Researchers published in Science Advances have shown that they have developed a new medical device that can effectively capture these extracellular vesicles. The small fragments of these cells have potential applications for detecting cancer.
The research leader and author Takao Yasui explained, “Extracellular vesicles may be used as clinical markers. The molecular composition contained in EVs may provide diagnostic signals for specific diseases. For doctors, now in The challenge in the field is to find a non-invasive diagnostic tool that allows them to monitor patients on a regular basis, such as urine sample testing. “

Scientists have discovered that many molecules in EVs are small RNAs, which are short pieces of ribonucleic acid that play different roles in normal cell biology. The point is that specific small RNAs in urine may be a sign of some serious diseases, such as bladder and prostate cancer. Although these substances can theoretically help doctors diagnose cancer, there are still many technical obstacles to be overcome.

One obstacle is finding a viable method to capture enough extracellular vesicles to enable analysis in a routine clinical setting.
After introducing a urine sample into the device, the nanowire substrate can capture extracellular vesicles by electrostatic force, and then small molecule RNA can be directly extracted from the substrate.

“In urine, EV levels are extremely low, less than 0.01% of fluid volume. This is a major obstacle to their diagnostic application,” Yasui noted. “Our solution is to oxidize Nanowires made of zinc are embedded in specific polymers to create a unique material that we believe can efficiently capture these vesicles. Our findings indicate that this device is actually very effective. We have achieved more than 99% collection, which is more than any method available in the field, including ultracentrifugation. “

Comparison of nanowires and conventional methods on RNA collection.

To test the utility of their device, the research team compared small RNAs isolated from EVs from healthy people and patients who have been diagnosed with bladder, pancreatic, and other forms of cancer. It is worth noting that their technique requires only 1 ml of urine, and the researchers found a greater number of different types of small RNAs compared to standard ultracentrifugation methods.

Different types of small RNAs identified from healthy donors and cancer patients.

“Finding a specific, reproducible marker to aid cancer diagnosis is very difficult. This is especially true for small RNAs, which are a new type of biomarker in the field,” said co-author Yoshinobu Baba, “Sometimes finding a reliable small RNA is considered successful. With this method, we surprisingly find not only one, but all different types of small RNA combinations that may be associated with different types of cancer. Of course These findings are still in their infancy, but we hope that this device will help lay the foundation for easier ways to help diagnose life-threatening diseases as early as possible.

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Post time: Dec-10-2019