Biosensing technology is an advancing field that benefits from the properties of biological processes combined to functional materials. Recently, biosensors have emerged as essential tools in biomedical applications, offering advantages over conventional clinical techniques for diagnosis and therapy. Optical biosensors provide fast, selective, direct, and cost-effective analyses allowing label-free and real-time tests. They have also shown exceptional potential for integration in lab-on-a-chip (LOC) devices. The major challenge in the biosensor field is to achieve a fully operative LOC platform that can be used in any place at any time. The choice of an appropriate strategy to immobilize the biological element on the sensor surface becomes the key factor to obtain an applicable analytical tool. In this chapter, after a brief description of the main biofunctionalization procedures on silicon devices, two silicon-based chips that present an (i) IgG antibody or (ii) an Id-peptide as molecular probe, directed against the B-cell receptor of lymphoma cancer cells, will be presented. From a comparison in detecting cells, the Id-peptide device was able to detect lymphoma cells also at low cell concentrations (8.5 × 10−3 cells/μm2) and in the presence of a large amount of non-specific cells. This recognition strategy could represent a proof-of-concept for an innovative tool for the targeting of patient-specific neoplastic B cells during the minimal residual disease; in addition, it represents an encouraging starting point for the construction of a lab-on-a-chip system for the specific recognition of neoplastic cells in biological fluids enabling the follow-up of the changes of cancer cells number in patients, highly demanded for therapy monitoring applications.
Part of the book: Lab-on-a-Chip Fabrication and Application
Diatomite is a natural porous silica material of sedimentary origin, formed by remains of diatom skeletons called “frustules.” The abundance in many areas of the world and the peculiar physico-chemical properties made diatomite an intriguing material for several applications ranging from food production to pharmaceutics. However, diatomite is a material still rarely used in biomedical applications. In this chapter, the properties of diatom frustules reduced to nanoparticles, with an average diameter less than 350 nm, as potential drug vectors are described. Their biocompatibility, cellular uptake, and capability to transport molecules inside cancer cells are discussed. Preliminary studies of in vivo toxicity are also presented.
Part of the book: Algae
Besides its canonical role in protein synthesis, the eukaryotic translation elongation factor 1A (eEF1A) is also involved in many other cellular processes such as cell survival and apoptosis. We showed that eEF1A phosphorylation by C-Raf in vitro occurred only in the presence of eEF1A1 and eEF1A2, thus suggesting that both isoforms interacted in cancer cells (heterodimer formation). This hypothesis was recently investigated in COS-7 cells where fluorescent recombinant eEF1A isoforms colocalized at the level of cytoplasm with a FRET signal more intense at plasma membrane level. Here, we addressed our attention in highlighting and confirming this interaction in a different cell line, HEK 293, normally expressing eEF1A1 but lacking the eEF1A2 isoform. To this end, His-tagged eEF1A2 was expressed in HEK 293 cells and found to colocalize with endogenous eEF1A1 in the cytoplasm, also at the level of cellular membranes. Moreover, FRET analysis showed, in this case, the appearance of a stronger signal mainly at the level of the plasma membrane. These results confirmed what was previously observed in COS-7 cells and strongly reinforced the interaction among eEF1A isoforms. Moreover, the formation of eEF1A heterodimer in cancer cells could also be important for cytoskeleton rearrangements rather than for phosphorylation, most likely occurring during cell survival and apoptosis.
Part of the book: Protein-Protein Interaction Assays