Rapid identification and quantification of tumour cells using a novel electrocatalytic method based in gold nanoparticles

Alfredo de la Escosura-Muñiz, Christian Sánchez-Espinel, Belén Díaz-Freitas, África González-Fernández, Marisa Maltez-da Costa, Arben Merkoçi. Analytical Chemistry, 81, p. 10268-10274 (2009)

There is a high demand for simple, rapid, efficient, and user-friendly alternative methods for the detection of cells in general and, in particular, for the detection of cancer cells. A biosensor able to detect cells would be an all-in-one dream device for such applications. The successful integration of nanoparticles into cell detection assays could allow for the development of this novel class of cell sensors. Indeed, their application could well have a great future in diagnostics, as well as other fields. As an example of a novel biosensor, we report here an electrocatalytic device for the specific identification of tumor cells that quantifies gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) coupled with an electrotransducing platform/sensor. Proliferation and adherence of tumor cells are achieved on the electrotransducer/detector, which consists of a mass-produced screen-printed carbon electrode (SPCE). In situ identification/quantification of tumor cells is achieved with a detection limit of 4000 cells per 700 μL of suspension. This novel and selective cell-sensing device is based on the reaction of cell surface proteins with specific antibodies conjugated with AuNPs. Final detection requires only a couple of minutes, taking advantage of the catalytic properties of AuNPs on hydrogen evolution. The proposed detection method does not require the chemical agents used in most existing assays for the detection of AuNPs. It allows for the miniaturization of the system and is much cheaper than other expensive and sophisticated methods used for tumor cell detection. We envisage that this device could operate in a simple way as an immunosensor or DNA sensor. Moreover, it could be used, even by inexperienced staff, for the detection of protein molecules or DNA strands.

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