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Ligand-directed targeting and capturing of cancer cells is a new approach for detecting circulating tumor cells (CTCs). Ligands such as antibodies have been successfully used for capturing cancer cells and an antibody based system (CellSearch®) is currently used clinically to enumerate CTCs. Here we report the use of a peptide moiety in conjunction with a microcantilever array system to selectively detect CTCs resulting from cancer, specifically breast cancer. A sensing microcantilever, functionalized with a breast cancer specific peptide 18-4 (WxEAAYQrFL), showed significant deflection on cancer cell (MCF7 and MDA-MB-231) binding compared to when exposed to noncancerous (MCF10A and HUVEC) cells. The peptide-functionalized microcantilever allowed efficient capture and detection of cancer cells in MCF7 spiked human blood samples emulating CTCs in human blood. A detection limit of 50–100 cancer cells mL−1 from blood samples was achieved with a capture yield of 80% from spiked whole blood samples. The results emphasize the potential of peptide 18-4 as a novel peptide for capturing and detecting cancer cells in conjunction with nanomechanical cantilever platform. The reported peptide-based cantilever platform represents a new analytical approach that can lead to an alternative to the various detection platforms and can be leveraged to further study CTCs.


This article was originally published in Scientific Reports, volume 5, in 2015. DOI: 10.1038/srep13967


Nature Publishing Group

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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.



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