The American Cancer Society released statistics in 2015 that women with noninvasive cancers have a 92% chance of survival, but this rate plummets to 27% if the cancer is known to have spread. This poor outcome has been largely attributed to the lack of an effective early detection method. Engineering an early-detection mechanism that is cost efficient for those unable to afford full medical scans, quick to provide real-time feedback of results for immediate treatment, and user-friendly for eventual integration into routine check-ups is the primary goal of this project.

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have recently characterized a novel antigen of the B7 family as a promising biomarker in the diagnosis and treatment of ovarian cancer. In normal tissues, B7-H4 is present in low concentrations, however; its concentration escalates during the early stages of ovarian cancers; according to the Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas, over 90% of ovarian cancer cases follow this trend. Utilizing a monoclonal antibody pair to B7-H4, a method is developed to ascertain the presence of the antigen through transmission electron microscopy (TEM) analysis. Similar to sandwich ELISA, each antibody binds to its respective epitope on the antigen, creating a sandwich. The capture antibody, JES6-1A12, is conjugated to an iron oxide magnetic nanoparticle via a carbohydrate moiety, and the detection antibody, JES6-5H4, is linked to a streptavidin coated nanoparticle via a spontaneous biotin-biotin reaction. A subsequent TEM scan outputs images of the sandwiched complex, allowing visual determination of the presence and quantity of B7-H4.