A Nanopore-Nanofiber Mesh Biosensor


Mark Grinstaff, Boston University, COE

Low income urban centers with large African American populations suffer from high lung and colorectal cancer mortality compared to white Americans (25% and 50% increase in mortality rate compared to white Americans, respectively) due to diagnosis at more advanced stages, lack of early detection and staging, increased times between diagnosis and treatment, and refusal of treatment. Thus, there is a clinical need for a rapid, non-invasive, screening technique that provides more information on a patient’s risk for developing lung or colon cancer beyond their age, ethnicity, or lifestyle, which can be performed at the primary care physician’s office or the local clinic. Over the last two decades, mutations in the KRAS gene have been linked to early stage lung and colorectal cancer and efficacy of treatment; however, all approved clinical tests for detecting these mutations are limited to tumor biopsy samples. Attempts to detect these mutations in DNA found in fecal samples have had limited success due to sample complexity leading to poor target amplification. However, cell-free DNA containing the KRAS gene mutation is present at low levels in a patient’s urine. The team is developing a sensitive single-molecule biosensor which utilizes sequence specific fluorescent barcodes.