Researchers in the US have wrapped bacteriophage with the polymer PEG (polyethylene glycol) to make a structure that detects PSMA, a molecular flag for prostate cancer. Their system could save lives by spotting aggressive forms of the disease at an earlier stage.
Bacteriophage are harmless to humans, and their surfaces can be easily modified to grab onto cancer biomarkers, which can be indirectly quantified by measuring the levels of enzymes attached to these biomarkers with an ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay). However, non-specific adhesion between cell surface receptors and phage can lead to a reduced signal-to-noise ratio and therefore make it difficult to distinguish cancer cells.
Greg Weiss and Kritika Mohan at the University of California have overcome this issue by wrapping PEG around the phage M13. This creates a hydration sphere around the phage and limits non-specific cell adhesion, allowing them to distinguish PSMA-positive from PSMA-negative cells.
Read the full story in Chemistry World»
Read the original journal article in Molecular BioSystems – it is free to access until 30 November 2015.
Engineering chemically modified viruses for prostate cancer cell recognition
K Mohan and G Weiss, Mol. Biosyst., 2015, Advance Article
DOI: 10.1039/C5MB00511F, Paper