Dataset Open Access

Detection of HER2+ Breast Cancer Cells using Bioinspired DNA-Based Signal Amplification

Sarah D. Rafiee; Samet Kocabey; Michael Mayer; Jonathan List; Curzio Rüegg

Circulating tumor cells (CTC) are promising biomarkers for metastatic cancer detection and monitoring progression. However, CTC detection remains challenging due to their low frequency and heterogeneity. Herein, we report a bioinspired approach to detect individual cancer cells, based on a signal amplification cascade using a programmable DNA hybridization chain reaction (HCR) circuits. We applied this approach to detect HER2+ cancer cells using the anti-HER2 antibody (trastuzumab) coupled to initiator DNA eliciting a HCR cascade that leads to a fluorescent signal at the cell surface. At 4°C, this HCR detection scheme resulted in highly efficient, specific and sensitive signal amplification of the DNA hairpins specifically on the membrane of the HER2+ cells in a background of HER2- cells and peripheral blood leukocytes, which remained almost non-fluorescent. The results indicate that this system offers a new strategy that may be further developed toward an in vitro diagnostic platform for the sensitive and efficient detection of CTC.

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