Aptamer−Nanoparticle Strip Biosensor for Sensitive Detection of Cancer Cells

We report an aptamer−nanoparticle strip biosensor (ANSB) for the rapid, specific, sensitive, and low-cost detection of circulating cancer cells. Known for their high specificity and affinity, aptamers were first selected from live cells by the cell-SELEX (systematic evolution of ligands by exponential enrichment) process. When next combined with the unique optical properties of gold nanoparticles (Au-NPs), ANSBs were prepared on a lateral flow device. Ramos cells were used as a model target cell to demonstrate proof of principle. Under optimal conditions, the ANSB was capable of detecting a minimum of 4000 Ramos cells without instrumentation (visual judgment) and 800 Ramos cells with a portable strip reader within 15 min. Importantly, ANSB has successfully detected Ramos cells in human blood, thus providing a rapid, sensitive, and low-cost quantitative tool for the detection of circulating cancer cells. ANSB therefore shows great promise for in-field and point-of-care cancer diagnosis and therapy.