UF researchers develop new CRISPR-based tool for cancer diagnosis
A team of University of Florida researchers has developed a promising new CRISPR-powered method for noninvasive blood tests that could help clinicians diagnose cancer at earlier stages.
The team demonstrated that their strategy is as effective as the widely used reverse transcription quantitative polymerase chain reaction, or RT-qPCR, assays for cancer diagnosis and could be paired with a simple portable device for point-of-care clinical testing.
The research, led by Yong Zeng, Ph.D., an associate professor in the department of chemistry, an affiliate faculty member in the J. Crayton Pruitt Family department of biomedical engineering and a UF Health Cancer Center member, was published on April 27 in Nature Biomedical Engineering. The team collaborated with the department of surgery in the UF College of Medicine to collect the samples tested in the study, which was funded by the National Cancer Institute.
The method works by detecting microRNAs, which are small RNA molecules involved in regulating gene expression, in tiny particles circulating in the blood called extracellular vesicles.
MicroRNAs have emerged as promising sources for developing biomarkers of cancerous tumors in human fluids, such as blood. But clinical application has remained limited because of the complexity of microRNAs and the lack of a tool sensitive enough to detect them.