We use cookies to understand how you use our site and to improve your experience. This includes personalizing content and advertising. To learn more, click here. By continuing to use our site, you accept our use of cookies. Cookie Policy.

Features Partner Sites Information LinkXpress
Sign In
Advertise with Us
Sekisui Diagnostics UK Ltd.

Download Mobile App

CRISPR-Powered Method for Non-Invasive Blood Tests to Help Diagnose Early Stage Cancer

By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 02 Jun 2023
Print article
Image: A portable smartphone-based POC device for use with EXTRA-CRISPR method for cancer diagnostics (Photo courtesy of UF Health)
Image: A portable smartphone-based POC device for use with EXTRA-CRISPR method for cancer diagnostics (Photo courtesy of UF Health)

MicroRNAs, tiny RNA molecules that regulate gene expression, have been identified as potential cancer biomarkers in human fluids like blood. Extracellular vesicles, tiny particles actively discharged by cells, transfer biomolecules between cells, influencing cell functions and diseases. Tumor cells tend to release these vesicles with disease-associated microRNAs more aggressively, making them a promising source for discovering new cancer markers. However, their clinical application has been constrained due to their complexity and the absence of a tool sensitive enough for their detection. Although CRISPR technology, a potent gene-editing tool, has been increasingly recognized as a potential platform for developing new disease diagnostics, earlier CRISPR tests were not as sensitive as the gold standard RT-qPCR and involved multistep reactions with manual handling. Now, a new approach, called “EXTRA-CRISPR,” could represent a game-changing method in the microRNA testing field.

A team of researchers from University of Florida (Gainesville, FL, USA) has developed an innovative CRISPR-based strategy for non-invasive blood tests that could assist clinicians in diagnosing cancer at earlier stages. The new method, which detects microRNAs in extracellular vesicles, is as effective as the widely used RT-qPCR assays for cancer diagnosis and can be combined with a simple portable device for point-of-care clinical testing. With the aim of streamlining the complete workflow into a 'one pot' setup, the researchers created a quick, sensitive method to detect microRNAs that is simpler and reduces the risk of cross-contamination. The term 'one pot' signifies that all necessary chemical agents, except for the sample, are housed in a single test tube, and only the microRNA sample needs to be added for a reaction to carry out the analysis.

The researchers decided to tailor this technology for pancreatic cancer due to the high mortality rate associated with the disease. They demonstrated that the novel one-pot assay could be adapted for two detection methods commonly used for point-of-care testing. Using readily available components, including a blue LED illuminator, a plastic filter, and a coffee mug warmer, they first prototyped a portable smartphone-based device. These components were assembled on a 3D-printed body part, and a smartphone was attached to capture fluorescence images of the test vials post-reaction to measure the target markers. Alongside the fluorescence detector, they paired the EXTRA-CRISPR assay with a commercially available lateral-flow test strip to create an instrument-free point-of-care device. Both point-of-care methods were tested for pancreatic cancer detection, and they delivered diagnostic results consistent with those obtained with a benchtop PCR machine. A patent application has been filed by the researchers based on this work to make the one-pot CRISPR assay and the point-of-care technology widely accessible for basic research and clinical application.

“Our method is very promising for diagnosis of cancer, such as pancreatic cancer, when combined with robust microRNA biomarkers and for point-of-care testing,” said He Yan, Ph.D., a postdoctoral researcher who was part of the team. “In the future, this method can be coupled with a very simple, low-cost portable device to make pancreatic cancer detection simpler but still reliable.”

Related Links:
University of Florida 

Print article


Surgical Techniques

view channel
Image: The PtNGrid features thin, flexible and densely packed grids of either 1,024 or 2,048 embedded ECoG sensors (Photo courtesy of David Baillot/UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering)

Electronic Grid Records Brain Activity during Surgery to Minimize Damage to Healthy Tissue

A new electronic grid equipped with nanoscale sensors that records electrical signals from the human brain with unprecedented detail could enhance surgical planning and execution for removing brain tumors... Read more

Patient Care

view channel
Image: The portable, handheld BeamClean technology inactivates pathogens on commonly touched surfaces in seconds (Photo courtesy of Freestyle Partners)

First-Of-Its-Kind Portable Germicidal Light Technology Disinfects High-Touch Clinical Surfaces in Seconds

Reducing healthcare-acquired infections (HAIs) remains a pressing issue within global healthcare systems. In the United States alone, 1.7 million patients contract HAIs annually, leading to approximately... Read more

Health IT

view channel
Image: First ever institution-specific model provides significant performance advantage over current population-derived models (Photo courtesy of Mount Sinai)

Machine Learning Model Improves Mortality Risk Prediction for Cardiac Surgery Patients

Machine learning algorithms have been deployed to create predictive models in various medical fields, with some demonstrating improved outcomes compared to their standard-of-care counterparts.... Read more

Point of Care

view channel
Image: POCT offers cost-effective, accessible, and immediate diagnostic solutions (Photo courtesy of Flinders University)

POCT for Infectious Diseases Delivers Laboratory Equivalent Pathology Results

On-site pathology tests for infectious diseases in rural and remote locations can achieve the same level of reliability and accuracy as those conducted in hospital laboratories, a recent study suggests.... Read more
Copyright © 2000-2024 Globetech Media. All rights reserved.