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.
Etayash, H. et al. Real-time Detection of Breast Cancer Cells Using Peptidefunctionalized Microcantilever Arrays. Sci. Rep. 5, 13967; doi: 10.1038/srep13967 (2015).
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