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New rapid test could diagnose cancers and heart disease

Friday August 5th 2022

An easy-to-use test has been devised that could speed up the diagnosis heart attacks and cancers, it has been announced.

CrisprZyme, the new test, developed by a team of researchers led by Imperial College London, UK, MIT, USA, and Max Delbrück Centre for Molecular Medicine, Berlin, Germany, detects biomarkers and can also be used at room temperature, which means GP surgeries and resource-limited clinics in developing countries could use it.

The results of preliminary lab studies of the test were published last night in *Nature Nanotechnology*.

CrisprZyme builds on CRISPR diagnostic tests, which use RNA to detect biomarkers in biological fluids. In their current form, these tests detect RNA and then amplify it by creating multiple copies so that the signal is easier to read.

However, these amplifying technologies have to be temperature controlled to work, which requires expensive equipment.

CrisprZyme improves this technology by replacing the amplification process with colorimetric analysis, which eliminates the need for temperature control. It can also reveal how much of a biomarker is present in a sample, the developers say.

To eliminate the amplification step, the researchers used nanozymes whose enzymatic-like activity increases the signal of the test making the colorimetric analysis easier to read.

The sample must still be treated with chemicals to extract the desired biomarker before it is run through the test, but the teams are studying alternatives for sample treatment to make it even more user-friendly.

First author Dr Marta Broto, of Imperial’s Department of Materials, said: “As well as potentially boosting access to diagnostics in developing countries, this technology could bring us a step closer to personalised diagnostics at home or at the GP surgery.

“By making clinical diagnostic tests simpler, we will be able to provide clinicians with the right tools to test at the same GP surgery instead of having to reschedule for follow-up analyses and blood tests.”

Senior author Professor Molly Stevens, of Imperial’s Departments of Materials and Bioengineering, added: “Our test, like others, indicates when a biomarker is present, but CrisprZyme is a simpler diagnostic than those currently available.

“What also sets it apart is that it can tell us just how much biomarker is present, which can help us not just with diagnosing a disease, but with monitoring its progress over time and in response to treatment.

“Following further development and testing in the lab, we hope this could help take us a step closer to personalised medicine whereby treatment is tailored more specifically to patients’ needs.”

Broto M, Kaminski MM, Adrianus C et al. Nanozyme-catalysed CRISPR assay for preamplification-free detection of non-coding RNAs. *Nature Nanotechnology* 4 August 2022; doi: 10.1038/s41565-022-01179-0


Tags: Cancer | Europe | Heart Health | North America | UK News

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