Detection of a miRNA biomarker for cancer diagnosis using SERS tags and magnetic separation

Kiatnida Treerattrakoon, Pimporn Roeksrungruang, Tararaj Dharakuk, Deanpen Japrung, Karen Faulds, Duncan Graham, Suwussa Bamrungsap

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Detection of miR-29a, a biomarker of cancers, using SERS tags and magnetic separation is described. The assay was designed to detect the miR-29a sequence by taking the complementary sequence and splitting it into a capture and detection probe. The SERS tags comprised the highly Raman active molecule 4-mercaptobenzoic acid (4-MBA) and DNA detection probes assembled onto the surface of gold nanorods (AuNRs) through the self-assembly process. The capture DNA conjugated magnetic nanoparticles (MNPs) were applied as capture probes. The detection was based on the hybridisation and sandwich complex formation. The resultant hybridisation-dependent complexes were recovered and enriched from the samples by magnetic separation. The enriched solution containing target miRNA hybridised with capture probes were dropped on a foil-covered slide to form a droplet for SERS analysis. A characteristic spectrum of 4-MBA was observed to indicate the presence of the miR-29a in the samples. The sensitivity of the assay is examined by measuring the SERS signal of the samples containing different concentrations of the miR-29a. The SERS intensity appears to increase with the concentration of miR-29a. The limit of detection (LOD) was found to be 10 pM without any amplification process. In addition, the selectivity and feasibility of the assay in complex media are evaluated with the non-target miRNAs comprising different sequences from the target miR-29a. The system was capable of detecting the target miR-29a specifically with high selectivity. These results suggest that this solution-based SERS platform has a significant capability for simple, sensitive, and selective miR-29a analysis.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages8
JournalAnalytical Methods
Early online date14 Apr 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 14 Apr 2022


  • cancer diagnosis
  • SERS tags
  • magnetic separation
  • miRNA
  • miR-29a sequence

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