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Dr. Kiana Aran’s Publication on the EV-Chip Featured on the Front Cover of Advanced Biology

On April 30, Keck Graduate Institute (KGI) Assistant Professor Dr. Kiana Aran and her collaborators published an article titled “Rapid and Electronic Identification and Quantification of Age-Specific Circulating Exosomes via Biologically Activated Graphene Transistors” in the peer-reviewed journal Advanced Biology. Now, the article—on a novel biosensor called the EV-Chip—has been featured on the front cover of Advanced Biology for the July 7 issue.

The EV-Chip is a prototype portable, low-cost reader for detecting and quantifying exosome biomarkers of cancer and other aging-related diseases. It was developed using graphene-based biology-gated developed by Cardea Bio, a biotech company integrating molecular biology with semiconductor electronics, where Dr. Aran also serves as Chief Scientific Officer.

Studies have found that exosomes carry specific biomolecules allowing for early detection of cancer and other age-related diseases. Current technologies, however, require large sample sizes, lengthy incubation periods, and chemical labeling.

Additionally, these methods need highly skilled technicians to both run the instruments and complete complex procedures. Thus, both cost and time become barriers to the early diagnosis of cancer and other age-related conditions.

By contrast, the EV-Chip is portable, allowing for rapid, inexpensive, point-of-care diagnosis of these conditions. In our current environment, where people live longer but simultaneously develop more age-related diseases—and where the pandemic has left many economically devastated —the need for more accessible healthcare is more significant than ever.

“Scientists will be able to use the EV-Chip for biomarker discovery and unlock a new source of diagnostic biomarkers and therapies to combat these diseases more effectively,” Aran said.

The EV-Chip has high-specificity antibodies that bind to one or more exosome biomarkers of interest embedded into a Cardean Transistor chip. When a plasma-derived exosome sample is added, the one-molecule-thick, biocompatible graphene transistor detects antibody-binding events and sends digital feedback to a small device that can easily connect to any computer and return results within an hour.

The Advanced Biology article demonstrates the EV-Chip’s clinical potential to evaluate human liquid biopsy samples through rapid, label-free identification of known biomarkers CD63 and CD151. CD63 can predict carcinomas in its earlier stages and is a biomarker for cancer and viral infections. CD151 is a potential prognostic cancer biomarker and is associated with cancer progression, neoangiogenesis, and metastasis.

The EV-Chip can help usher in a whole generation of portable, rapid, point-of-care devices.