A new method for diagnosing blood cancer has been proposed by researchers from China. They combined special antibodies and fluorescent nanoparticles.

Using a liquid biopsy is becoming an increasingly popular way to detect cancer. There are several different technologies, but all of them are based on the capture of free tumor cells circulating in the blood. This is not an easy task, because in a sample with 10 million blood cells, only one malignant can be present.

Researchers from the Fujian Institute for the Study of the Structure of Matter and the Fujian Cancer Hospital have proposed a new way to approach this problem. To do this, they added photoluminescence to a liquid biopsy, according to Science Daily.

At the first stage, the team created antibodies to the EpCAM membrane glycoprotein, which serves as a marker for cancer cells. When they were applied to the surface of the wells on a microplate and blood samples were added, the malignant cells attached to the bottom. Researchers then coated europium nanoparticles with these antibodies. When added to the solution, they bind to tumor cells.

After the “developer” was added, the particles emitted europium ions, which were bound to other components of the solution and caused a fluorescent glow.

Europium ions fluoresce quite a long time, for several microseconds. This increases the sensitivity of measurements, scientists explain.

During the experiments, the technique revealed samples containing only 10 malignant cells per milliliter of blood and accurately determined the presence of cancer in 14 cases out of 15.

Another supersensitive method for detecting cancer cells in blood samples was developed by researchers from the United States. They used carbon nanotubes to trap cancer cells. This technique is now ready for clinical trials.

Liquid biopsy, based on the capture of malignant cells freely circulating in the blood, is becoming an increasingly popular method for diagnosing cancer. However, devices that exist today have a number of limitations, Science Daily notes. This is a low sensitivity, high cost and inability to capture tumor cells of different sizes. In addition, many liquid biopsy devices do not distinguish malignant cells from white blood cells of a similar size.