Technology developed at MIT could detect ovarian cancer months sooner than today's methods

Ovarian cancer tumors could be detected 5 months earlier than is possible with today's blood tests using technology developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, according to a university article.
The research is detailed in a Nature Biomedical Engineering journal article. According to the abstract, “The ability to identify cancer lesions with endogenous biomarkers is currently limited to tumours ~1 cm in diameter.”

“We recently reported an exogenously administered tumour-penetrating nanosensor that sheds, in response to tumour-specific proteases, peptide fragments that can then be detected in the urine. Here, we report the optimization, informed by a pharmacokinetic mathematical model, of the surface presentation of the peptide substrates to both enhance on-target protease cleavage and minimize off-target cleavage, and of the functionalization of the nanosensors with tumour-penetrating ligands that engage active trafficking pathways to increase activation in the tumour microenvironment,” the abstract states.

Biomedical Engineering Society member Sangeeta Bhatia was the senior author of the study. Bhatia is the John and Dorothy Wilson Professor of Health Sciences and Technology and Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, and a member of MIT's Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research and Institute for Medical Engineering and Science.

According to the MIT article, “The new test makes use of a ‘synthetic biomarker' — a nanoparticle that interacts with tumor proteins to release fragments that can be detected in a patient's urine sample. This kind of test can generate a much clearer signal than natural biomarkers found in very small quantities in the patient's bloodstream.”

CLICK HERE for the Nature Biomedical Engineering article.
CLICK HERE for the MIT article.