Development of a Multi-target Protein Biomarker Assay for Circulating Tumor Cells

Diya Li, Ceming Wang, Yingjia Ni, Yaoping Liu, Wei Wang, Siyuan Zhang, Hsueh Chia Chang, Satyajyoti Senapati

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Scopus citations


We report a highly sensitive and selective CNT-switch liquid biopsy platform that detects and quantifies protein biomarker expressions from circulating tumor cells in blood for early detection of metastatic breast cancer and its relapse. This platform first isolates and enriches more than 99% of tumor cells with an off-chip micro-size membrane filtration technique and then conducts on-chip detection of the membrane and internal protein biomarkers of the tumor cells with high sensitivity and selectivity. High sensitivity is achieved with complete association of the antibody-antigen-antibody (Ab-Ag-Ab) complex by precisely and rapidly assembling carbon nanotubes (CNTs) across two parallel electrodes via sequential DC electrophoresis and dielectrophoresis (DEP) deposition. Each bridged CNT acts as a switch that connects the electrodes and closes the circuit to generate an electrical signal. The high selectivity is achieved with a critical hydrodynamic shear rate that irreversibly removes non-target linkers of the aligned CNTs. At present, we are able to detect the protein biomarkers from 5 spiked breast cancer tumor cells of different types within 7.5 ml of human blood samples. This demonstrates the potential of this platform as an inexpensive and noninvasive alternative to MRI scans and tissue biopsies currently used to detect early metastatic breast cancer and its relapse.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationMethods in Molecular Biology
PublisherHumana Press Inc.
Number of pages16
StatePublished - 2022
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameMethods in Molecular Biology
ISSN (Print)1064-3745
ISSN (Electronic)1940-6029


  • Breast cancer
  • Carbon nanotube
  • Circulating tumor cell
  • Electrophoresis
  • Metastasis
  • Sandwich assay

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics


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