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Scientists Develop Smart Contact Lenses That Can Diagnose Cancer From Tears

A study conducted by the Terasaki Institute for Biomedical Innovation (TIBI) developed a contact lens that can detect and identify exosomes, nanometer-sized vesicles present in human fluids that may serve as diagnostic biomarkers (a molecule, gene, or characteristic that can be used to identify a particular pathological or physiological process, disease, etc.) for cancer.

The results of this study have been published in the journal Advanced Functional Materials [1].

Here are the important points from the study:

  • The contact lens can detect cancer early and assist in its treatment using tears.
  • Researchers at the Terasaki Institute for Biomedical Innovation (TIBI) in California have developed a novel lens capable of capturing and detecting exosomes, nanometer-sized vesicles found in body secretions that could serve as biomarkers for cancer diagnosis.
  • The lens contains microchambers bound to antibodies that can capture exosomes found in tears. As a result, this technology offers a potential method for cancer pre-screening and a non-invasive, rapid, sensitive, cost-effective, and easy diagnostic tool.
  • To eliminate the need for these isolation methods, the TIBI team developed an ACSM-CL that captures exosomes from tears, which is a cleaner source of exosomes than blood, urine, or saliva.
  • For structural retention, the team used laser cutting and engraving rather than conventional cast molding when fabricating the microchambers for their lens.
  • Moreover, the team developed a method of chemically modifying the surfaces of microchambers to activate them for antibody binding. Instead of using metallic or nanocarbon materials in expensive clean rooms, this method was used.
  • The results of the detection and non-detection of exosomes in the three cell lines confirmed the lens's ability to capture and detect exosomes with different surface markers, such as cancers [2].

"Exosomes are a rich source of markers and biomolecules which can be targeted for several biomedical applications," said Ali Khadem Hosseini, Ph.D., TIBI's Director and CEO. "The methodology that our team has developed greatly facilitates our ability to tap into this source [3]."

Use Of Exosomes In Cancer Detection

Exosomes are capable of transporting a variety of biomolecules between cells. It has also been shown that exosomes contain various surface proteins - some of which are common to all exosomes. In contrast, others are increased in response to cancer, viral infections, or injury [4].

Additionally, exosomes derived from tumours can have a significant impact on the progression of tumours. As a result of these capabilities, exosomes have been widely used in cancer diagnosis and prognosis/treatment prediction.

However, it has been difficult to isolate exosomes in sufficient quantities and purity for this purpose. In addition, the current method of analysis requires time-consuming elements that require a lot of effort [5].

Furthermore, the detection of isolated exosomes is complicated by the need for expensive and space-consuming equipment.

Read more about: contact lenses cancer diagnosis
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