With the rates of cancer patients increasing rapidly, scientists keep looking for innovations that can help in their prior detection.
FREMONT, CA: Everyone is well versed with the fact that the pharmaceutical industry is the one sector, which is very fast at adopting new technologies. Currently, a DNA-based tool has been introduced by the researchers at Duke University, which is capable of identifying cancer cells. A DNA circuit represents its system. DNA binding to certain cell markers generates a signal if and only of two particular proteins are present, helping to enhance specificity and minimize false positives in cancer cell detection. The researchers are also anticipating that one day their DNA circuits will be provided to cancer patients and help signal to the immune system for eradicating tagged cancer cells.
Because of different biochemical markers expressed by the cancer cells, detecting them in the body is indeed a very complex task. Earlier work for detecting cancer can lead to false alarms, whereby noncancerous cells are misidentified as cancer cells. For addressing this issue, a DNA circuit was designed that generates a signal only if certain combinations of cell markers are present.
First, the strands of DNA bind to the cancer cell surface markers. The DNA strand, which is marker-binding binds a DNA’s second strand that forms a hairpin. Inserting a third initiator strand of DNA makes one of the hairpins to open, which triggers a chain reaction till the last hairpin is opened, and a signal is generated by the circuit signals that the cell is cancerous.
After testing their microscopic device, the scientists discovered that it also holds the ability to detect leukaemia cells and distinguish them from other cancer cells within a matter of hours. Later, the device can be adapted for identifying other cell-surface proteins, might help signal to the immune system for destroying tagged cancer cells one day.
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