Pattern recognition of cancer cells using aptamer-conjugated magnetic nanoparticles.
ABSTRACT Biocompatible magnetic nanosensors based on reversible self-assembly of dispersed magnetic nanoparticles into stable nanoassemblies have been used as effective magnetic relaxation switches (MRSw) for the detection of molecular interactions. We report, for the first time, the design of MRSw based on aptamer-conjugated magnetic nanoparticles (ACMNPs). The ACMNPs capitalize on the ability of aptamers to specifically bind target cancer cells, as well as the large surface area of MNPs to accommodate multiple aptamer binding events. The ACMNPs can detect as few as 10 cancer cells in 250 μL of sample. The ACMNPs' specificity and sensitivity are also demonstrated by detection in cell mixtures and complex biological media, including fetal bovine serum, human plasma, and whole blood. Furthermore, by using an array of ACMNPs, various cell types can be differentiated through pattern recognition, thus creating a cellular molecular profile that will allow clinicians to accurately identify cancer cells at the molecular and single-cell level.