COLUMBIA, Mo. — Researchers at the University of Missouri
have made a discovery that could provide an early warning signal for lung
cancer, according to a press
MU researchers used blood plasma samples to detect a change
in a specific small ribonucleic acid (microRNA) molecule that is often elevated
in lung cancer patients.
The scientists put an extract of blood plasma through a
protein-based nanopore, which is a tiny hole in a thin membrane that is just
big enough for a single molecule to pass through.
By applying an ionic current to the nanopore, the scientists
measured changes in the current that occur when the microRNA molecule
associated with lung cancer is present.
“That altered current acts as a signal or bio-signature that
is related to lung cancer,” said Li-Qun Gu, PhD, an associate professor of
biological engineering at MU and a corresponding author for the study. “Our new
nanopore sensor is selective and sensitive enough to detect microRNAs at the
single molecular level in plasma samples from lung cancer patients.”
study was recently published in the journal Nature