Nano Research

Article Title

Nontoxic virus nanofibers improve the detection sensitivity for the anti-p53 antibody, a biomarker in cancer patients


phage, virus, protein, nanofibers, cancer diagnosis


The presence of anti-p53 antibody in serum is a biomarker for cancer. However, its high sensitivity detection is still an issue in cancer diagnosis. To tackle this challenge, we used fd phage, a human-safe bacteria-specific virus nanofiber that can be mass-produced by infecting host bacteria in an error-free manner, and genetically engineered it to display a peptide capable of recognizing and capturing anti-p53 antibody on its side wall. We employed the resultant phage nanofibers as a capture probe to develop a modified version of the enzymelinked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) method, termed phage-ELISA. We compared it to the traditional ELISA method for the detection of anti-p53 antibody, p53-ELISA, which uses recombinant wild-type p53 protein to capture anti-p53 antibody. We applied phage-ELISA to detect anti-p53 antibody in an experimental group of 316 patients with various types of malignant tumors. We found that a detection rate of 17.7% (56 positive cases) was achieved by phage-ELISA, which was comparable to the detection rate of 20.6% for p53-ELISA (65 positive cases). However, when both phage and p53 were combined to form antibody-capturing probes for phage/p53-ELISA, a detection rate of 30.4% (96 positive cases) was achieved. Our work showed that owing to the combined capture of the anti-p53 antibody by both phage nanofibers and p53, the phage/p53-ELISA achieved the highest diagnostic accuracy and detection efficiency for the anti-p53 antibody in patients with various types of cancers. Our work suggests that a combination of nanofibers and antigens, both of which capture antibody, could lead to increased detection sensitivity, which is useful for applications in the life sciences, clinical medicine, and environmental sciences.

Graphical Abstract


Tsinghua University Press