In a similar way to DNA, RNA is also vital for life, performing a significant part in gene processing. The short-length RNAs, known as microRNA, are highly stable compared to the longer RNA chains. They are mostly found in ordinary bodily fluids. The microRNA level in bodily fluids is robustly associated with the existence and progress of cancer. If microRNAs are segregated and sequenced, they can function as prominent biomarkers for the incidence of cancer.
A research team at the Nagoya University, Japan, has developed a device that can quickly take apart microRNAs from a sample consisting of DNA and RNA, opening new avenues for microRNAs to be a realistic biomarker for detecting cancer, and potentially several other diseases. The new technique has shown the potential to entirely sort out microRNAs from a mixture within 100 ms.
The nanobiodevice comprises quartz substrate having a 25×100 μm arrangement of nanopillars in shallow nanoslits with a 100 nm height and put together in a microchannel through electron beam lithography. The nanopillars are small columns with a height of 100 nm and diameter of 250 nm.
The capability of the nanobiodevice to sort out microRNA from DNA was first validated with the use of mixtures having elements with known quantities. The team standardized the partition conditions, attaining nearly absolute sorting of microRNA from DNA in 20 ms.
The research team then separated a sample consisting of RNA, DNA, and microRNA isolated from cells with the use of nanobiodevice. The sorting out with high resolution was achieved in 100 ms. The nanobiodevice sorted microRNA from DNA and RNA owing to the distinct mobilities of these components via the nanopillar section of the microchannel.
The team believes the nanobiodevice to sort the microRNA from a sample via a combination of 2 diverse physical working of confined polymers in the nanopillar array, entropic trapping, and non-equilibrium transport. The electric field applied merges with the nanobiodevice’s exclusive nanostructure to produce a strong electric force that stimulates fast separation and concentration.
Thus, this separation approach can result in rapid, more reliable sorting of microRNA, which can be further used as a biomarker to detect cancer. This a step further in the field of cancer diagnosis.
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