The David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MITThe David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

National Cancer Institute Cancer Center

Science + Engineering... Conquering Cancer Together

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The Bhatia Lab is developing a library of activity-based nanosensors (ABNs) for proteases identified in prostate cancer. These injectible biosensors offer a new paradigm for diagnosis and classification of aggressive prostate cancer, through the production of prostate cancer biomarkers with a noninvasive readout. After screening human data for overexpression of proteases in prostate cancer samples vs normal adjacent tissue, the researchers modified a subset of the ABNs with tumor-penetrating peptides that target overexpressed integrins to increase their sensitivity. These modified sensors robustly classified mice bearing an aggressive prostate cancer xenograft compared to mice bearing a less-aggressive xenograft. Their results, published in PNAS, suggest a viable alternative to the current gold standard biomarker, known as PSA, which, in many cases, has poor predictive value and a relatively high propensity for false positives.