A simple and sensitive sensor method for cancer biomarkers [prostate specific antigen (PSA) and PSA-alpha 1-antichymotrypsin (ACT) complex] analysis was developed, to be applied directly with human serum (75%) by using antibody modified quartz crystal microbalance sensor and nanoparticles amplification system. A QCM sensor chip consisting of two sensing array enabling the measurement of an active and control binding events simultaneously on the sensor surface was used in this work. The performance of the assay and the sensor was first optimised and characterised in pure buffer conditions before applying to serum samples. Extensive interference to the QCM signal was observed upon the analysis of serum. Different buffer systems were then formulated and tested for the reduction of the non-specific binding of sera proteins on the sensor surface. A PBS buffer containing 200 mu g mL(-1) BSA, 0.5 M NaCI, 500 mu g mL(- 1) dextran and 0.5% Tween 20, was then selected which eliminated the interfering signal by 98% and enabled the biomarker detection assay to be performed in 75% human serum. By using Au nanoparticles to enhance the QCM sensor signal, a limit of detection of 0.29 ng mL(-1) PSA and PSA-ACT complex (in 75% serum) with a linear dynamic detection range up to 150 ng mL(-1) was obtained. With the achieved detection limit in serum samples, the developed QCM assay shows a promising technology for cancer biomarker analysis in patient samples. (C) 2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved
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