The potential legacy of cancer nanotechnology: cellular selection.
It has been of high significance to devise a biochemical analytical tool kit enabling the detection of few circulating tumor cells (CTCs) for early diagnosis of cancer. Despite recent effort made to detect few CTCs, it is still challenging to sense such cells with their low concentration and/or the minute amount of marker proteins expressed on few CTCs. In this work, we report the label-free recognition of carcinoembryonic antigens (CEAs) expressed on few CTCs by using a carbon nanotube (CNT) sensor coupled with scanning probe microscopy imaging for cancer diagnosis. It is shown that a CNT-patterned surface is able to specifically capture the CEA molecules in the whole cell lysate of CTCs with their concentration even up to 10(-3) cells/mL. Our work sheds light on our bioassay based on a CNT-patterned surface for highly sensitive, label-free detection of marker proteins expressed on few tumor cells, which may open a new avenue in early diagnosis of cancer by providing a novel biochemical analysis tool kit.