Nanobiochip Sensor Technique for Analysis of Oral Cancer Biomarkers

A pilot study has described a nanobiochip sensor technique for analysis of oral cancer biomarkers in exfoliative cytology specimens, targeting both biochemical and morphologic changes associated with early oral tumorigenesis (Weigum et al. 2010). Oral lesions from dental patients, along with normal epithelium from healthy volunteers, were sampled using a noninvasive brush biopsy technique. Specimens were enriched, immunolabeled, and imaged in the nanobiochip sensor according to previously established assays for the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) biomarker and cytomorphometry. Four key parameters were significantly elevated in both dysplastic and malignant lesions relative to healthy oral epithelium, including the nuclear area and diameter, the nuclear-to-cytoplasmic ratio, and EGFR biomarker expression. Further examination using logistic regression and receiver operating characteristic curve analyses identified morphologic features as the best predictors of disease individually, whereas a combination of all features further enhanced discrimination of oral cancer and precancerous conditions with high sensitivity and specificity. Further clinical trials are necessary to validate the regression model and evaluate other potential biomarkers. Nanobiochip sensor technique is a promising tool for early detection of oral cancer, which could enhance patient survival.

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