Disease-specific protein corona sensor arrays may have disease detection capacity†
The earlier any catastrophic disease (e.g., cancer) is diagnosed, the more likely it can be treated, providing improved patient prognosis, extended survival and better quality of life. In early 2014, we revealed that various types of disease can substantially affect the composition/profile of protein corona (i.e., a layer of biomolecules that forms at the surface of nanoparticles upon their interactions with biological fluids). Here, by combining the concepts of disease-specific protein corona and sensor array technology we developed a platform with disease detection capacity using blood plasma. Our sensor array consists of three cross-reactive liposomes, with distinct lipid composition and surface charge. Rather than detecting a specific biomarker, the sensor array provides pattern recognition of the corona protein composition adsorbed on the liposomes. As a feasibility study, sensor array validation was performed using plasma samples obtained from patients diagnosed with five different cancer types (i.e. lung cancer, glioblastoma, meningioma, myeloma, and pancreatic cancer) and a control group of healthy donors. Although no single corona composition is specific for any one cancer type, overlapping but distinct patterns of the corona composition constitutes a unique “fingerprint” for each type of cancer (with a high classification accuracy, i.e. 99.4%). To finally probe the capacity of this sensor array for early detection of cancers, we used cohort plasma obtained from healthy people who were subsequently diagnosed several years after plasma collection with lung, brain, and pancreatic cancers. Our results suggest that the disease-specific protein corona sensor array will not only be instrumental in the screening, detection, and identification of diseases, but may also help identify novel protein pattern markers whose role in disease development and/or disease biology has not been appreciated so far.