Because of the difficulty of treatment in its latest stages, cancer is among the leading causes of death worldwide. Therefore, high-affinity and specificity biomarkers are still in demand for many cancer types, and the utility of aptamers to serve in this regard has been explored recently. Although a process known as "systematic evolution of ligands by exponential enrichment" (SELEX) has been used to generate aptamer-based cancer biomarkers, this approach is complicated, time-consuming, and labor-intensive. An automated microfluidic system was consequently developed herein to screen ovarian cancer-specific aptamers via on-chip SELEX with clinical cancer tissue samples. The integrated microfluidic system consisted of an integrated microfluidic chip, a temperature control module equipped with 12 thermoelectric coolers, and a flow control module for controlling 36 electromagnetic valves such that the entire, tissue-based SELEX process could be fully automated and carried out within 15 h. Highly specific ovarian cancer aptamers with high affinity (dissociation constant of 129 nM) to their cellular targets were screened with this system. Given the comparable specificity to their much more expensive antibody counterparts, these aptamers, when used in conjunction with the developed microfluidic system, may be used to diagnose ovarian cancer in its earliest stages.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Biomedical Engineering
- Materials Science(all)
- Condensed Matter Physics
- Fluid Flow and Transfer Processes
- Colloid and Surface Chemistry