Dr. Liu’s research project focuses on developing a fast and simple approach for the early diagnosis of pancreatic cancer (PC) by simultaneously identifying microRNA (miRNA) and protein biomarker signatures in plasma, using nanoparticle-powered chemiluminescent lateral-flow biosensor (NCLFB) technology.
Simultaneous detection of miRNAs and protein biomarkers with an NCLFB array is expected to offer a simple, fast and cost effective tool for early diagnosis of pancreatic cancer with improved specificity. This platform has the potential to be extended for detecting other biomarkers, monitoring the response to therapy, and providing real-time prognostics of PC patients.
The miR-196a (reported to be a potential miRNA biomarker for PC diagnosis) and CA 19-9 (an approved biomarker for prognosis and following the course of PC progression) will be used as model targets to optimize the experimental conditions. The approach will initially develop an ultrasensitive NCLFB based and alkaline phosphatase (ALP)/DNA (or ALP/antibody)-functionalized silica nanoparticle (Si-NP) probes for detecting miR-196a (without polymerase chain reaction, PCR, amplification) and CA 19-9 in plasma.
Subsequently, Dr. Liu’s group will develop an integrated chemiluminescent biosensor for simultaneous detection of miR-196a and CA 19-9 on a single platform. The NCLFB array will be fabricated and used for the detection of a miRNA panel (miR-16, miR-196a, and miR-210) and protein biomarker panel (CA 19-9, ICAM-1, and OPG).
The biosensor array will be tested with plasma samples from PC patients and control groups (healthy donors, liver-disease patients, as well as pancreatitis, pancreatic-cyst, and other cancer [breast, colon, and lung] patients). Results will be validated by qRT-PCR and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). This project has the potential to find “translational” application in human patients with pancreatic cancer.