Paper-based electrochemical device for detecting cancer-derived small extracellular vesicles (exosomes) in fluids

Cancer detection and diagnosis have long been plagued by challenges such as invasiveness, inaccuracy, and high costs. However, the landscape of cancer diagnostics is rapidly evolving, with innovative techniques emerging to overcome these obstacles. In a recent study, researchers at Università degli Studi di Napoli have developed a groundbreaking paper-based electrochemical device for detecting cancer-derived Small Extracellular Vesicles (S-EVs) in bodily fluids. This novel approach integrates knowledge from biology, oncology, medicinal, and analytical chemistry to offer a promising solution to the limitations of current tumor detection technologies.

The innovative paper-based electrochemical device developed by researchers aims to detect cancer-derived Small Extracellular Vesicles (S-EVs) in bodily fluids. These S-EVs are obtained from cancer cell lines known to express varying levels of the αvβ6 integrin receptor, a well-established hallmark of numerous epithelial cancer types.

Schematic representation of the platform

Fig. 2

a Engineering of the paper-based electrochemical strip following the screen-printing of conductive ink, modification with a dispersion of gold nanoparticles, covalent engineering of the αvβ6-selective probe and saturation of the surface with mercaptohexanol (6-MCH); b Impedimetric measurements show an increase of the semi-circle (charge transfer resistance, Rct) when the binding between probe and protein occurs (orange line) in comparison with absence of target (black line).

The biosensor demonstrated remarkable sensitivity, capable of recognizing αvβ6-containing S-EVs at concentrations as low as 0.7*10^3 S-EVs/mL. Moreover, it exhibited a linear detection range up to 10^5 S-EVs/mL with a relative standard deviation of 11%. These impressive performance metrics position the paper-based electrochemical device as a promising tool for the detection of αvβ6 expressing cancers.

The key advantage of this innovative biosensor lies in its simplicity, affordability, and rapid testing duration. Unlike traditional diagnostic methods that may require invasive procedures, toxic agents, and lengthy testing processes, the paper-based device offers a non-invasive, cost-effective, and efficient alternative for cancer detection. Its portability and ease of use make it particularly suitable for point-of-care applications, enabling healthcare professionals to perform on-the-spot cancer screening with minimal resources.

Moreover, the integration of paper-based technology with electrochemical sensing represents a synergistic approach that leverages the principles of both disciplines. By harnessing the unique properties of paper substrates and the sensitivity of electrochemical detection, the biosensor achieves robust performance while remaining accessible and user-friendly.

The development of the paper-based electrochemical device for cancer detection holds significant implications for the field of oncology and clinical diagnostics. Its ability to detect αvβ6 expressing cancers with high sensitivity and specificity opens up new possibilities for early cancer detection and personalized treatment strategies.

Furthermore, the scalability and adaptability of the biosensor offer opportunities for widespread adoption in various healthcare settings, including resource-limited environments and remote regions where access to sophisticated diagnostic equipment may be limited. By democratizing cancer detection and diagnosis, this innovative technology has the potential to improve patient outcomes and reduce the burden of cancer worldwide.

The development of the paper-based electrochemical device represents a significant milestone in the field of cancer diagnostics. By harnessing the power of interdisciplinary collaboration and innovative engineering, researchers have created a versatile and effective tool for detecting αvβ6 expressing cancers in bodily fluids. With its simplicity, affordability, and high performance, this biosensor paves the way for improved cancer screening, early detection, and personalized treatment approaches, ultimately enhancing the prospects of better outcomes for cancer patients globally.

Cinti S, Tomassi S, Ciardiello C, Migliorino R, Pirozzi M, Leone A, Di Gennaro E, Campani V, De Rosa G, D’Amore VM, Di Maro S, Donati G, Singh S, Raucci A, Di Leva FS, Kessler H, Budillon A, Marinelli L. (2024) Paper-based electrochemical device for early detection of integrin αvβ6 expressing tumors. Commun Chem 7(1):60. [article]

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