The biosensor has been applied to cancer protein detection and, thus far, has centered around the detection of HER2 protein, which is a growth-promoting protein on the outside of all breast cells. This work showed that the TBT biosensor could detect proteins relevant to cancer markers with the same results as ELISA (Enzyme Linked Immunosorbent Assay, a plate-based assay technique designed for detecting and quantifying soluable substances) test kits but in a much quicker time frame. This work, which we refer to as “PEMS,” was published in a paper titled: “Highly Sensitive Detection of HER2 Extracellular Domain in the Serum of Breast Cancer Patients by Piezoelectric Microcantilevers”. Our results suggest that PEMS potentially offers a sensitive, rapid, label free technology for the detection of relevant cancer biomarkers.
Additional work that was completed, but not published was a study to look at the ability of the TBT biosensor to detect human protein response in patients treated with Cetuximab (an Epidermal Growth Factor Recept Blocker (HER-1 Type), Rec-MC Antibody used to treat a certain type of colorectal cancer, as well as head and neck cancer ). The data pointed to the following conclusions:
• PEMS offer a sensitive tool for the detection of proteins in complex fluids
• PEMS are at least as sensitive as ELISA in detecting 1:1 Ab:Ag interactions (monoclonal)
• PEMS are significantly more sensitive than ELISA in the detection of polyclonal antibodies
That work was done on a small sample of patients but points to an interesting application of the sensor for future study.
The work that has been done to date points to the ability to use the sensor in a variety of applications for the rapid detection of cancer related proteins. TBT expects that these could include diagnostics for prostate cancer, ovarian cancer and others. It may also lead to the development of sensors that can be used to detect cancer margins during surgery without having to send samples to pathology.