Research article: Monitoring the progression of metastatic breast cancer on nanoporous silica chips

Jia Fan, Xiaoyong Deng, James W. Gallagher, Haiyu Huang, Yi Huang, Jianguo Wen, Mauro Ferrari, Haifa Shen, Ye Hu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Breast cancer accounted for 15 per cent of total cancer deaths in female patients in 2010. Although significant progress has been made in treating early-stage breast cancer patients, there is still no effective therapy targeting late-stage metastatic breast cancers except for the conventional chemotherapy interventions. Until effective therapy for laterstage cancers emerges, the identification of biomarkers for the early detection of tumour metastasis continues to hold the key to successful management of breast cancer therapy. Our study concentrated on the low molecular weight (LMW) region of the serum protein and the information it contains for identifying biomarkers that could reflect the ongoing physiological state of all tissues. Owing to technical difficulties in harvesting LMW species, studying these proteins/peptides has been challenging until now. In our study, we have recently developed nanoporous chip-based technologies to separate small proteins/peptides from the large proteins in serum. We used nanoporous silica chips, with a highly periodic nanostructure and uniform pore size distribution, to isolate LMW proteins and peptides from the serum of nude mice with MDA-MB-231 human breast cancer lung metastasis. By matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry and biostatistical analysis, we were able to identify protein signatures unique to different stages of cancer development. The approach and results reported in this study possess a significant potential for the discovery of proteomic biomarkers that may significantly enhance personalized medicine targeted at metastatic breast cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2433-2447
Number of pages15
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences
Issue number1967
StatePublished - May 28 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Breast cancer lung metastasis
  • Early diagnosis
  • Low molecular weight protein
  • Nanoporous silica
  • Proteomic biomarker

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Mathematics
  • General Engineering
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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