Ultrafast detection of a cancer biomarker enabled by innovative nanobiodevice

March 8, 2017
Quartz-made Nanopillars of 250-nm diameter were arrayed inside nanoslit region of 100-nm high and applied for ultrafast microRNA extraction from nucleic acids mixture. Credit: Noritada Kaji

Like DNA, ribonucleic acid (RNA) is a type of polymeric biomolecule essential for life, playing important roles in gene processing. Short lengths of RNA called microRNA are more stable than longer RNA chains, and are found in common bodily fluids. The level of microRNA in bodily fluids is strongly correlated with the presence and advance of cancer. This means that microRNA can act as an easily accessible biomarker to diagnose cancer, which causes over 14% of deaths annually worldwide.

To use microRNA as a biomarker for cancer, it needs to be isolated by a rapid, efficient process. A collaboration led by researchers at Nagoya University has developed an innovative nanobiodevice that can separate microRNA from DNA/RNA mixtures obtained from cells in less than 100 ms.

The nanobiodevice consists of a quartz substrate containing a 25×100 μm array of "nanopillars" (small columns with a diameter of 250 nm and height of 100 nm) in shallow "nanoslits" with a height of 100 nm and fabricated in a microchannel by .

The ability of the nanobiodevice to separate microRNA from DNA was first investigated using mixtures containing components with known concentrations. The team optimized the separation conditions, achieving almost complete separation of microRNA from DNA in just 20 ms. This is the fastest complete separation of microRNA to date.

The researchers then separated a mixture of microRNA, RNA, and DNA isolated from cells using the nanobiodevice. Separation with high resolution was realized in 100 ms. The nanobiodevice separated microRNA from RNA and DNA because of the different mobilities of these materials through the nanopillar region of the microchannel.

"We believe that the nanobiodevice separates microRNA from mixtures through a combination of two different physical behaviors of confined polymers in the nanopoillar array, non-equilibrium transport and entropic trapping," corresponding author Noritada Kaji says. "The applied electric field combines with the unique nanostructure of the nanobiodevice to generate a strong electric force that induces rapid concentration and separation."

The speed at which this nanobiodevice can separate microRNA from complex mixtures means that it is promising for integration with nanopore DNA sequencing, which aims to realize direct sequencing of DNA or RNA at a rate of 1 base/ms. The developed nanobiodevice separation approach may lead to faster, more reliable isolation of microRNA, facilitating its use as a biomarker to allow quicker and easier detection of cancer.

This study was conducted by Nagoya University, Kyushu University, Hokkaido University, and Osaka University.

The article, "A millisecond micro-RNA separation technique by a hybrid of nanopillars and nanoslits" was published in Scientific Reports at DOI: 10.1038/srep43877

Explore further: Study: Enhancing cancer response to radiation

More information: Qiong Wu et al, A millisecond micro-RNA separation technique by a hybrid structure of nanopillars and nanoslits, Scientific Reports (2017). DOI: 10.1038/srep43877

Related Stories

Study: Enhancing cancer response to radiation

December 2, 2016
OHSU researcher Sudarshan Anand, Ph.D., has a contemporary analogy to describe microRNA: "I sometimes compare MicroRNA to tweets—they're short, transient and constantly changing."

Witnessing the birth of a tiny RNA at brain synapses

February 13, 2017
Proteins are the building blocks of all cells. They are made from messenger RNA (mRNA) molecules, which are copied from DNA in the nuclei of cells. All cells, including brain cells regulate the amount and kind of proteins ...

The body does not absorb genetic material from our food

February 23, 2017
A study from the National Food Institute, Technical University of Denmark, finds no evidence that genetic material from food is absorbed in the human body where it would e.g. be able to change the body's ability to regulate ...

Choreographing the microRNA-target dance

January 23, 2017
Scientists face a conundrum in their quest to understand how microRNAs regulate genes and therefore how they influence human disease at the molecular level: How do these tiny RNA molecules find their partners, called messenger ...

New aptamer-based approach delivers microRNA therapeutic that targets cancer / cardiovascular disease

June 3, 2015
Researchers have shown that a novel delivery strategy can efficiently introduce a functional microRNA that has anti-cancer and angiogenic activities into two different types of cells—breast cancer cells to inhibit tumor ...

New discovery: Molecule links asthma and cancer and could aid in developing new treatments

May 1, 2014
A newly discovered molecule provides a new drug target for controlling both asthma-induced muscle thickening and cancerous tumor growth. This molecule, called "microRNA-10a," normally helps genes produce proteins or make ...

Recommended for you

Alternative splicing, an important mechanism for cancer

September 22, 2017
Cancer, which is one of the leading causes of death worldwide, arises from the disruption of essential mechanisms of the normal cell life cycle, such as replication control, DNA repair and cell death. Thanks to the advances ...

'Labyrinth' chip could help monitor aggressive cancer stem cells

September 21, 2017
Inspired by the Labyrinth of Greek mythology, a new chip etched with fluid channels sends blood samples through a hydrodynamic maze to separate out rare circulating cancer cells into a relatively clean stream for analysis. ...

Drug combination may improve impact of immunotherapy in head and neck cancer

September 21, 2017
Checkpoint inhibitor-based immunotherapy has been shown to be very effective in recurrent and metastatic head and neck cancer but only in a minority of patients. University of California San Diego School of Medicine researchers ...

Whole food diet may help prevent colon cancer, other chronic conditions

September 21, 2017
A diet that includes plenty of colorful vegetables and fruits may contain compounds that can stop colon cancer and inflammatory bowel diseases in pigs, according to an international team of researchers. Understanding how ...

New kinase detection method helps identify targets for developing cancer drugs

September 21, 2017
Purdue University researchers have developed a high-throughput method for matching kinases to the proteins they phosphorylate, speeding the ability to identify multiple potential cancer drug targets.

Poliovirus therapy induces immune responses against cancer

September 20, 2017
An investigational therapy using modified poliovirus to attack cancer tumors appears to unleash the body's own capacity to fight malignancies by activating an inflammation process that counter's the ability of cancer cells ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.