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J Nanosci Nanotechnol. 2012 Nov;12(11):8282-6.

A molecular beacon-based method for screening cervical cancer.

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Department of Oncology, The First Affiliated Hospital, Medical College of Xi'an Jiao Tong University, Xi'an, Shaanxi 710061, China.


The aim of this study is to develop a new screening method, molecular beacon (MB) imaging, for detection of cervical cancer and to determine its potential clinical applications by examining the sensitivity and specificity of target-specific MBs. Two target-specific molecular beacons were designed and synthesized for survivin and HPV16E6 mRNA. The two designed MBs and a random control MB were used to detect cervical cancer cell lines and a normal cell line. RT-PCR and western blot targeting survivin and HPV16E6 was done for verification. Furthermore the sensitivity and the specificity of the survivin and HPV16E6 mRNA MBs were examined in smears from 125 clinical cervical patients. The survivin and HPV16E6 mRNA MBs generated a strong fluorescence signal in cervical cancer cell lines, but not in the normal cell line, while the random control MB did not generated any signal in both cell lines. The fluorescence intensity correlated well with the gene expression levels in the cells determined by reverse transcription-PCR and Western blot analysis. The clinical sensitivity and the specificity of survivin MB-FITC were 72.5 and 77% while those of HPV16E6 MB-Cy3 were 96.1% and 71.6%, respectively. A parallel test of the two target MBs showed that the sensitivity increased to 98% and the specificity was 70.2%. The survivin and HPV16E6 mRNA MBs showed good reliability and sensitivity. They have great potential for clinical use in cervical cancer screening.

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