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They develop a biosensor capable of detecting tumors before they form

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A team of Spanish researchers has developed a biosensor capable of detecting cancer at its earliest stage of formation and even before it originates.

This method of diagnosis has been developed by scientists from the Complutense University of Madrid (UCM) and the “Alberto Sols” Institute of Biomedical Research (Madrid), in collaboration with different hospital institutions.

Our immune system tries to fight it by generating certain antibodies, before a malignant tumor develops. So when healthy cells are to be transformed into tumors, the expression of some proteins is altered.

Expression of these proteins can start several months or even years before the disease develops and is detected by faculty.

“Our immune system produces the antibodies even three years before the first symptoms appear,” explained Susana Campuzano, a researcher in the Department of Analytical Chemistry at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid (UCM) and co-author of the study.

The new biosensor, published in Analytical Chemistry, detects these antibodies in patients with cancer and people at high risk of suffering in the future.

The researchers tested their effectiveness in serum samples from four patients with colon cancer and two with ovarian cancer and also used it to analyze from twenty-four patients with a high probability of developing malignant tumors in the colon by family history.

With the help of the biosensor, scientists determined the autoantibodies generated by patients against the p53 protein, “known as the guardian of the genome because it repairs DNA mutations avoiding alterations in the cell cycle and the appearance of tumors,” said Jose Manuel Pingarrón, professor of the UCM and co-author of the work.

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When p53 undergoes a mutation and multiplies without control, the immune system of between 10% and 40% of the patients with cancer produces antibodies against it, alerting of a possible malignant transformation.

“The presence of antibodies against p53 protein could be indicative of the existence of a neoplastic disease already initiated or the risk of developing it in the near future,” said Rodrigo Barderas, a researcher in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology I of the UCM and Co-author of the work.

The biosensor showed a sensitivity 440 times higher than other similar devices and a better discrimination between serum samples positive and negative to antibodies against p53.

The study also highlights the simplicity of handling, portability and above all the speed of the biosensor performing the test – including the expression and purification of p53 – in six hours, while traditional methods take weeks or months.

In addition to serving as an early diagnostic method, the biosensor can be used to follow the evolution of the disease in patients who present antibodies to p53 in liquid biopsies.

Spanish scientists create a biosensor that detects cancer of the colon or ovary before it appears

Scientists at the Complutense University of Madrid (UCM) have developed a biosensor capable of detecting the antibodies generated by the immune system to combat proteins that are altered before the development of colon and ovary cancer, which would allow detection of both tumors of a faster and more accurate way than traditional methods, even before symptoms appear.

This tool allows the detection of these antibodies in serum samples from both cancer patients and patients at high risk of cancer in the future, according to the authors in the journal Analytical Chemistry.

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When healthy cells are transformed into tumors, the expression of some proteins is altered and, as defense, the immune system generates certain antibodies against them. Expression of these proteins can start several months or even years before the disease develops and is detected by faculty.

“Our immune system produces the antibodies even three years before the first symptoms appear,” explained Susana Campuzano, a researcher in the Department of Analytical Chemistry of the UCM who has developed this technique in collaboration with different hospital institutions and the Institute of Biomedical Research Alberto Sols (Madrid).

To test their effectiveness, the researchers used the tool in serum samples from four patients with colon cancer and two with ovarian cancer, treated at the university hospitals Puerta de Hierro and La Paz (Madrid).

In addition, they also used it to analyze sera from twenty-four patients with a high probability of developing malignant tumors in the colon by family history, treated at Hospital Universitario Clínico San Carlos (Madrid).

With the help of the biosensor, the scientists determined the autoantibody content generated by the patients against the p53 protein, known as the “guardian of the genome” because it repairs DNA mutations avoiding alterations in the cell cycle and the appearance of tumors, ha Added José Manuel Pingarrón, professor of the UCM and co-author of the work.

When p53 undergoes a mutation and multiplies without control, the immune system of between 10 and 40 percent of cancer patients produces antibodies against it, alerting to a possible malignant transformation.

“The presence of antibodies against the p53 protein could be indicative of the existence of a neoplastic disease already initiated or the risk of developing it in the near future,” added Rodrigo Barderas, a researcher in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology I of the UCM and co-author of the work.

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Much more sensitivity

Compared with other tools that also detect this type of antibody, the biosensor demonstrated a 440-fold higher sensitivity and a better discrimination between serum samples positive and negative to antibodies against p53.

Another advantage is the speed with which it operates, since in less than six hours the complete test is done including the expression and purification of p53, compared to the weeks or months necessary to develop traditional methods (in which it occurs and purifies the protein separately from the assay). “Its simplicity of handling, portability and trial time make it suitable for application in a hospital routine,” says Campuzano.

In addition to serving as an early diagnostic method, the biosensor can be used to follow the evolution of the disease in patients with antibodies against p53, through liquid biopsies, since as the tumor burden disappears the amount of these antibodies decrease to normal values.

In fact, patients with a high probability of developing malignant tumors in the colon who participated in the study are undergoing extensive follow-up by clinicians at San Carlos Clinic.

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