In a paper in the International Journal of Cancer,* the NIST-NCI-SAIC research team found that chicken immunoglobulin Y (IgY) antibody created against the HER2 protein could be tagged with quantum dot (tiny, intense and tunable sources of colorful light) to more reliably detect the HER2 biomarker than the existing diagnostic tests using mammalian antibodies tagged with conventional fluorescent dyes. Overall, the improvement in sensitivity to the HER2 biomarker was about 40-50 percent.
The increased sensitivity of the HER2 quantum dot-based quantitative bioimaging system stems from the broad genetic differences between avian and human species. The chicken IgY antibody to HER2 reacts strongly with the target protein while ignoring other human proteins that can interfere with current diagnostic tests.
Other advantages of the novel NIST-NCI-SAIC system include faster and larger-scale production of the antibodies and a more reliable quantitative measure of HER2 biomarker level, in part because the quantum dot tags will stay bright and detectable while fluorescent dyes fade over time.
Michael E. Newman | EurekAlert!
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