Cells can produce unique electrical signals. These signals are associated with various cancers, including breast, lung, liver pancreas, brain and prostate cancers, which means that they can be used as indicators to aid in early cancer diagnosis. Potentially, patients with cancer could have their outcomes improved by using electrical signals to target and indicate the treatment options for cancer. A team of researchers from SUTD, A*STAR Bioinformatics Institute and A*STAR Bioinformatics Institute developed a sensor that detects breast cancer cells. The cells emit strong electrical signals.
Breast cancer is the most common cause of death worldwide. You can reduce your risk of developing breast cancer by adopting healthy lifestyle choices, such as exercising, eating well and avoiding. It is vital to identify those at risk as early as possible in order to administer the relevant therapies and medical treatment. The biomedical community has been fascinated by the detection of signals generated by breast cancer cells and has resulted in the development of various sensing techniques such as electronic biosensors. Current traditional biosensing methods may require a large number of cancerous cells in order for detection. Hence, a low-cancer-cell-number sensing process for early diagnosis of breast cancer is needed.
The Singapore research team developed a 2D electric current material sensor for the detection of breast cancer cells. The ultra-sensitive sensor identified electrical signals from a record number of cancerous cells.
This is the first time 2D materials were used to identify the electrical signals emanating from breast cancer cells. Two-dimensional materials are part of the class of nanomaterials that comprise a few layers of atoms. They have generated much excitement in a variety of fields due to their unique electronic properties.
Recent active research has focused on 2D materials. They are used in a myriad of applications such as biosensing. In this study we have merged molybdenum disulfide (MoS 2) nanosheets with an electric current, resulting in the possibility of a new field of application in the field of biosensing.”
Dr. Desmond Loke is principal investigator and SUTD assistant professor
Computer simulations showed that the increased resistance resulted from the disruption of cancer cell membranes caused by the embedded 2D materials – and the final angle of the 2D sheet. The current flows through the 2D sheet of material. Therefore the tilt of 2D sheet could cause disruption to the flow of electrons along the cell membrane. Additionally, the extracted cell membrane components could have increased the resistance between the nanosheet and the cell membrane which acts as an insulator, thereby limiting the flow of electrons.
“We discovered that the sensor can detect electrical signals with about 70% less cancer cells than conventional electronic sensors.” Loke said.
“Our study opens the way to new sensors that detect breast cancer cells.” Dr. Loke said that this sensitive detection method could increase the chances of breast-cancer patients’ survival.
Sophia Chan, Denise Lee and Maria Meivita from SUTD, as well as Natasa Bajalovic, and Yaw-Sing Tang of A*STAR Bioinformatics Institute, are the other researchers who are involved in this research.
Chan, S.S.Y., Chan, S.S.Y.. (2021) Ultrasensitive two-dimensional material-based MCF-7 cancer cell sensor that is driven by perturbation processes. Nanoscale Advances. doi.org/10.1039/D1NA00614B.
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