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Biomedical diagnosis perspective of epigenetic detections using alpha-hemolysin nanopore

Department of Biological Engineering, Dalton Cardiovascular Research Center, University of Missouri-Columbia, Columbia, MO 65211, USA

Topical Section: Biomolecular Materials: DNA, RNA, proteins, peptides, lipids

The α-hemolysin nanopore has been studied for applications in DNA sequencing, various single-molecule detections, biomolecular interactions, and biochips. The detection of single molecules in a clinical setting could dramatically improve cancer detection and diagnosis as well as develop personalized medicine practices for patients. This brief review shortly presents the current solid state and protein nanopore platforms and their applications like biosensing and sequencing. We then elaborate on various epigenetic detections (like microRNA, G-quadruplex, DNA damages, DNA modifications) with the most widely used alpha-hemolysin pore from a biomedical diagnosis perspective. In these detections, a nanopore electrical current signature was generated by the interaction of a target with the pore. The signature often was evidenced by the difference in the event duration, current level, or both of them. An ideal signature would provide obvious differences in the nanopore signals between the target and the background molecules. The development of cancer biomarker detection techniques and nanopore devices have the potential to advance clinical research and resolve health problems. However, several challenges arise in applying nanopore devices to clinical studies, including super low physiological concentrations of biomarkers resulting in low sensitivity, complex biological sample contents resulting in false signals, and fast translocating speed through the pore resulting in poor detections. These issues and possible solutions are discussed.
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