Research Highlight

Nanobiosensor for detecting metastatic cancer

doi:10.1038/nindia.2016.83 Published online 30 June 2016

By using gold nanoparticles, nanocollagen and specific antibodies, researchers have fabricated a new nanobiosensor that can selectively detect metastatic cancer cells in a mix of different cancer cells1. This biosensor may enable early diagnosis of metastatic cancers.

During metastasis, cancer cells migrate from one place in the body to another, and they can invade multiple organs. Current techniques for detecting metastatic cancers are tedious and complex.

To overcome this problem, the researchers produced the biosensor using gold nanoparticles, nanocollagen and specific antibodies. The antibodies attached to the biosensor can selectively bind to epithelial cell adhesion molecule, a transmembrane protein found in metastatic cancer cells.

When exposed to metastatic cancer cells, the biosensor latched onto epithelial cell adhesion molecule, generating a current response that increased with the increasing number of cancer cells. But the biosensor showed no current response when exposed to biological fluids containing red blood cells, albumin and fibrinogens, indicating its selectivity. The biosensor also selectively detected metastatic breast cancer cells even in the presence of cervical and kidney cancer cells.

“The biosensor retained 94% of its original sensitivity after 5 weeks, suggesting that it could be used to develop a tiny diagnostic device for detecting various metastatic cancer cells and related marker proteins,” says lead researcher Pranjal Chandra from the Indian Institute of Technology, Guwahati.


1. Pallela, R. et al. An amperometric nanobiosensor using a biocompatible conjugate for early detection of metastatic cancer cells in biological fluid. Biosens. Bioelectron. 85, 883–890 (2016)