Silver-Plated Gold Nanostars Detect Early Cancer Biomarkers

New optical sensing platform can detect genomic cancer biomarkers directly in patient tissues

A close-up view of a handful of nanostars used to create a new type of cancer diagnostic

Biomedical engineers at Duke University have engineered a method for simultaneously detecting the presence of multiple specific microRNAs in RNA extracted from tissue samples without the need for labeling or target amplification. The technique could be used to identify early biomarkers of cancer and other diseases without the need for the elaborate, time-consuming, expensive processes and special laboratory equipment required by current technologies.

The results appeared online on May 4 in the journal Analyst.

“The general research focus in my lab has been on the early detection of diseases in people before they even know they’re sick,” said Tuan Vo-Dinh, director of the Fitzpatrick Institute for Photonics and the R. Eugene and Susie E. Goodson Distinguished Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Duke. “And to do that, you need to be able to go upstream, at the genomic level, to look at biomarkers like microRNA.”

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