Nanotheranostics 2017; 1(1):80-102. doi:10.7150/ntno.18216 This issue


Gold Nanoparticle Based Platforms for Circulating Cancer Marker Detection

Xiaohua Huang, Ryan O'Connor, Elyahb Allie Kwizera

Department of Chemistry, The University of Memphis, Memphis, TN 38152, USA.

This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY-NC) license ( See for full terms and conditions.
Huang X, O'Connor R, Kwizera EA. Gold Nanoparticle Based Platforms for Circulating Cancer Marker Detection. Nanotheranostics 2017; 1(1):80-102. doi:10.7150/ntno.18216. Available from

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Graphic abstract

Detection of cancer-related circulating biomarkers in body fluids has become a cutting-edge technology that has the potential to noninvasively screen cancer, diagnose cancer at early stage, monitor tumor progression, and evaluate therapy responses. Traditional molecular and cellular detection methods are either insensitive for early cancer intervention or technically costly and complicated making them impractical for typical clinical settings. Due to their exceptional structural and functional properties that are not available from bulk materials or discrete molecules, nanotechnology is opening new horizons for low cost, rapid, highly sensitive, and highly specific detection of circulating cancer markers. Gold nanoparticles have emerged as a unique nanoplatform for circulating biomarker detection owning to their advantages of easy synthesis, facile surface chemistry, excellent biocompatibility, and remarkable structure and environment sensitive optical properties. In this review, we introduce current gold nanoparticle-based technology platforms for the detection of four major classes of circulating cancer markers - circulating tumor cells, vesicles, nucleic acids, and proteins. The techniques will be summarized in terms of signal detection strategies. Distinctive examples are provided to highlight the state-of-the-art technologies that significantly advance basic and clinical cancer research.

Keywords: Gold nanoparticle, circulating cancer marker detection, circulating tumor cell, extracellular vesicle, circulating nucleic acid, protein tumor marker.