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Detecting Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian cancer causes many deaths. Early diagnosis can benefit many women.

Timely detection is now possible using fibronectin as biomarker. This glycoprotein, a protein with sugars attached, is found in the extracellular matrix. It contributes to cell growth, differentiation and migration. Its expression is higher in metastatic tumours than in primary tumours. 

Fibronectin, a ribbon model of the protein. Image: Wikimedia Commons

But how do we detect and measure fibronectin?

Recently, Shiv Govind Singh and team from IIT Hyderabad in collaboration with Amit Agrawal, IIT Bombay reported designing a simple method for the purpose.

When antibodies against fibronectin interact with it, the electronic structure of the antibody changes. If the antibody is attached to nanocarbon, the nanocarbon can conduct the change as a signal. The electrical signal will tell us if fibronectin is present, they reasoned.

So, they conjugated the antibody to porous carbon derived from sweet corn husk. Silica particles inherent in sweet corn husk, the bio-waste precursor, provide better antibody antigen interactions. 

“Otherwise we would have had to use metal ions to help attach the antibodies to carbon”, says Malothu Usha Rani, IIT Hyderabad. 

Porous carbon has more surface area than the usual carbon electrodes. So more antibodies can be attached and there is more interaction with fibronectin.

“We used electrochemical impedance spectroscopy and cyclic voltammetry to check the sensor’s performance. It had high sensitivity”, says  Atul Suresh Deshpande, IIT Hyderabad.

“The range of detection is quite wide – from a concentration of 100 femtogram per millilitre to hundred femtogram per millilitre of fibronectin”, adds Amit Agrawal, IIT Bombay. 

“The device has high selectivity for target proteins. It’s also highly resistant to interference from non-target proteins.  And it has good stability for storage and use after long periods”, says Ullas Pandey, IIT Hyderabad.

“This carbon-based anti-fibronectin immunosensor can detect high fibronectin content in human blood plasma. This is useful to start cancer therapy early”, says Shiv Govind Singh, IIT Hyderabad. 

Biomedical entrepreneurs need to come forward to take the technique to clinical practice.

DOI: 10.1016/j.electacta.2021.139258

 Meera K M
KUFOS, Cochi

STEAMindiaReports: science news free to use for Indian media

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Categorised in: Diagnostics, Maharashtra, Medicine, Telengana

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