A simple, ultra-sensitive microRNA sensor, developed and tested by researchers from the School of Science at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI), the Indiana University (IU) School of Medicine, and the IU Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center, holds promise for the design of new diagnostic strategies and, potentially, for the prognosis and treatment of pancreatic and other cancers. In a study published online on October 7, 2015 in an open-access article in ACS Nano, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Chemical Society focusing on nanoscience and nanotechnology research, the IUPUI researchers describe their design of the novel, low-cost, nanotechnology-enabled, re-usable sensor. They also report on the promising results from tests of the sensor's ability to identify pancreatic cancer or indicate the existence of a benign condition by quantifying changes in levels of microRNA signatures linked to pancreatic cancer. The ACS Nano article is titled “Label-Free Nanoplasmonic-Based Short Noncoding RNA Sensing at Attomolar Concentrations Allows for Quantitative and Highly Specific Assay of MicroRNA-10b in Biological Fluids and Circulating Exosomes.” MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small molecules of RNA that regulate how larger messenger RNA (mRNA) molecules lead to protein expression. As such, miRNAs are very important in biology and disease states. "We used the fundamental concepts of nanotechnology to design the sensor to detect and quantify biomolecules at very low concentrations," said Rajesh Sardar, Ph.D., who developed the sensor. "We have designed an ultra-sensitive technique so that we can see minute changes in miRNA concentrations in a patient's blood and confirm the presence of pancreatic cancer." Dr.
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