(April 24, 2018) Science Advances recently published a study that succeeded in detecting HE4, a biomarker for high-grade serous ovarian cancer (HGSC), by implanting an optical sensor near a disease site in mice. HE4, like CA-125, is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as a biomarker for HGSC. However, these biomarkers are more likely to become detectible only after the disease has reached an advanced stage. This implant seeks to change that by placing a semipermeable membrane, which can pick up trace levels of HE4, near disease sites such as the fallopian tubes or ovaries.

First author of the study and OCRFA grantee, Ryan Williams, PhD, explained the importance of the study, saying, “We developed an implantable nanosensor that specifically detects an ovarian cancer biomarker. We used that sensor to noninvasively detect the biomarker in live mice with ovarian cancer. It is expected that future studies will use this sensor for early-stage ovarian cancer detection in patients with risk factors for the disease.”