Researchers use ‘Spinostics’ to detect cancer biomarkers

QDOTS imagesCAKXSY1K 8(Nanowerk News) A new biosensing assay which can  specifically and rapidly detect colorectal cancer biomarkers in solution has  been developed by researchers at the London Centre for Nanotechnology and other  UCL departments, introducing the concept of “spinostics”.


Reported in Nature Scientific Reports (“Homogeneous antibody fragment conjugation by disulfide bridging  introduces ‘spinostics’”) this week, the study describes the addition of a “spin label” to an antibody fragment, which can then be detected using electron  spin resonance (ESR) and subsequently used to determine the presence of certain  cancer biomarkers.

Nanowerk spinostics

The complex formed between the antibody fragment with the label (green and  yellow) and the antigen (blue wire frame). The cartoon is a crystallographic  representation – only a schematic.

This research has potential to provide a wide range of  off-the-shelf biochemical tests, which use antibodies to detect the presence of  biomolecules, revolutionising the in vitro diagnostics field. The study describes the modification of the antibody fragment  (anti-CEA sscFv) through its disulfide bond by adding a spin label, a nitroxide  molecule that has an unpaired electron, which can attach itself to a biomolecule.

When this modified antibody fragment binds to the colorectal  cancer biomarker, carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA), the tumbling motion of the  fragment is slowed. These changes are reported by the attached spin label and  can be detected using ESR.

Biomarkers are biological molecules found in blood or other body  tissues that are a sign or signature of a disease or condition.   The  carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA), a protein involved in cell adhesion, is a  biomarker of colorectal cancer and, if present in the blood, is an indication  that the disease is present.

One of the advantages of this technique was that the researchers  were able to measure CEA concentrations in complex media, such as whole human  blood without the need to pre-treat the blood samples e.g. remove the red blood  cells.

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