Home » Key Medical Diagnostics Articles » Real-Time, Quantitative Lighting-up Detection of Telomerase in Urines of Bladder Cancer Patients by AIEgens

Real-Time, Quantitative Lighting-up Detection of Telomerase in Urines of Bladder Cancer Patients by AIEgens

Significance Statement

A study conducted by researchers from Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, China developed a novel method for detection of telomerase activity from cultured tumor cells and primary cell specimens. This detection is rapid, simple and label-free with very high sensitivity. Urine specimens from 41 bladder cancer patients and 15 normal people are detected using this method, and satisfactory detection rate is obtained. This detection develops a new application for Aggregation-induced emission (AIE) dyes, and provides a promising tool for detection of telomerase activity and clinical diagnostics.

Real-Time Quantitative Lighting-up Detection of Telomerase in Urines of Bladder Cancer Patients by AIEgens. Global Medical Discovery

Journal Reference

Anal Chem. 2015;87(13):6822-7.

Lou X1, Zhuang Y1, Zuo X2, Jia Y1, Hong Y3, Min X1, Zhang Z1, Xu X1, Liu N1, Xia F1, Tang BZ4.

Show Affiliations

1†Key Laboratory for Large-Format Battery Materials and System, Ministry of Education, School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Huazhong University of Science and Technology (HUST), Wuhan 430074, China.

2§Division of Physical Biology and Bioimaging Center, Shanghai Synchrotron Radiation Facility, Shanghai Institute of Applied Physics, Chinese Academy of Science, Shanghai 201800, China.

3∥School of Chemistry, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria 3010, Australia.

4⊥Department of Chemistry, HKUST Jockey Club Institute for Advanced Study Division of Life Science, Institute of Molecular Functional Materials and Division of Biomedical Engineering, The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST), Clear Water Bay, Kowloon, Hong Kong, China.


As a biomarker for early cancer diagnosis, telomerase are one of the promising targets for cancer therapeutics. Inspired by the fluorescent emission principle of aggregation-induced emission fluorogens, we creatively designed an AIE-based turn-on method to detect telomerase activity from cell extracts. A positively charged fluorogen (TPE-Z) is not fluorescent when freely diffused in solution. The fluorescence of TPE-Z is enhanced with the elongation of the DNA strand which could light up telomere elongation process. By exploitation of it, we can detect telomerase activity from different cell lines (E-J, HeLa, MCF-7, and HLF) with high sensitivity and specificity. Moreover, our method is successfully employed to demonstrate the applications in bladder cancer diagnosis (41 urine specimens from bladder cancer patients and 15 urine specimens from normal people are detected). The AIE-based method provides a simple one-pot technique for quantification and monitoring of the telomerase activity and shows great potential for future use in clinical tests.

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