Early-stage pancreatic cancer remains challenging to detect, leading to a poor five-year patient survival rate. This obstacle necessitates the development of early detection approaches based on novel technologies and materials. In this work, the presence of a specific pancreatic cancer-derived miRNA (pre-miR-132) is detected using the fluorescence properties of biocompatible nitrogen-doped graphene quantum dots (NGQDs) synthesized using a bottom-up approach from a single glucosamine precursor. The sensor platform is comprised of slightly positively charged (1.14 ± 0.36 mV) NGQDs bound via π-π stacking and/or electrostatic interactions to the negatively charged (-22.4 ± 6.00 mV) bait ssDNA; together, they form a complex with a 20 nm average size. The NGQDs' fluorescence distinguishes specific single-stranded DNA sequences due to bait-target complementarity, discriminating them from random control sequences with sensitivity in the micromolar range. Furthermore, this targetability can also detect the stem and loop portions of pre-miR-132, adding to the practicality of the biosensor. This non-invasive approach allows cancer-specific miRNA detection to facilitate early diagnosis of various forms of cancer.
Ajgaonkar, R., Lee, B., Valimukhametova, A., Nguyen, S., Gonzalez-Rodriguez, R., Coffer, J., Akkaraju, G. R., & Naumov, A. V. (2022). Detection of Pancreatic Cancer miRNA with Biocompatible Nitrogen-Doped Graphene Quantum Dots. Materials (Basel, Switzerland), 15(16), 5760. https://doi.org/10.3390/ma15165760
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