Cancer is recognized as a serious health challenge both in the United States and throughout the world. While early detection and diagnosis of cancer leads to decreased mortality rates, current screening methods require significant time and costly equipment. Recently, increased levels of certain micro-ribonucleic acids (miRNAs) in the blood have been linked to the presence of cancer. While blood-based biomarkers have been used for years in cancer detection, studies analyzing trace amounts of miRNAs in blood and serum samples are just the beginning. Recent developments in deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) nanotechnology and DNA computing have shown that it is possible to construct nucleic-acid-based chemical networks that accept miRNAs as inputs, perform Boolean logic functions on those inputs, and generate as an output a large number of DNA strands that can be readily detected. Since miRNAs occur in blood in low abundance, these networks would allow for amplification without using polymerase chain reaction. In this study, we report initial progress in the development of a DNA-based cross-catalytic network engineered to amplify specific cancer-related miRNAs. Subcomponents of the DNA network were tested individually, and their operation in serum, as well as a mixture of serum with sodium dodecyl sulfate, is demonstrated. Preliminary simulations of the full cross-catalytic network indicate successful operation.
Graugnard, Elton; Cox, Amber; Lee, Jeunghoon; Jorcyk, Cheryl; Yurke, Bernard; and Hughes, William L.. (2010). "Kinetics of DNA and RNA Hybridization in Serum and Serum-SDS". IEEE Transactions on Nanotechnology, 9(5), 603-609. http://dx.doi.org/10.1109/TNANO.2010.2053380