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Optical Fiber-based Nanobiosensors for Early Prostate Cancer Diagnosis

Final Report Summary - NANOEYE (Optical Fiber-based Nanobiosensors for Early Prostate Cancer Diagnosis)

To date, all experimental results have suggested that the increased levels of telomerase are correlated with an early stage of most cancers, as it marks the transformation of cells. Among the current methodologies for measuring telomerase in actual tumour specimens, the Telomerase Repeat Amplification Protocol (TRAP) assay is mostly adopted. However, this technology remains some problems and challenges. Since individual cell responds differently to external stimuli and these important information couldn’t be obtained from population averaged measurement in cell extracts, solubilized telomerase thus may not faithfully reflect the activity of endogenous telomerase in the intact nuclear environment. Furthermore, the information on the cell type expressing telomerase could be lost when carrying out solution phase techniques such as TRAP.

As a result, this project intends to construct novel nanosized probe-based biosensors which could be applied to detect and monitor the existing telomerase in nucleus of single living cells without significantly altering and/or destructing single cell’s intracellular architecture and physiological function. By studying the level of telomerase in single living cells, early-stage cancer could be detected and diagnosed. Early cancer diagnosis is a critical key for effective and successful treatments. Treating prostate cancer is a race against time. By the time the first symptoms of prostate cancer become apparent, the tumour has usually spread too far and there is fewer hope of curing it.

In summary, we have successfully 1) designed and constructed a nanoprobe based nanobiosensor for the detection of telomerase activity in single living cells; 2) evaluated and optimised a protocol based on the ELISA method to detect the over expression of telomerase, which is closely related to the activity of telomerase. The results are beneficial to establish an nano-sized fiber optical biosensors for early prostate cancer diagnosis. The resulting systems could significantly benefit the increasing demands for early diagnosis of cancer in terms of point-of-care diagnosis, timely treatment, life saving and cost cutting, etc. This further coincides directly with the Europe Union’s health and social objectives.

To accomplish project goals, six working packages, each consists of a number of specific tasks, have been designed and then successfully completed during the period of this fellowship.