Research Highlight

Detecting toxicity of anticancer drug

doi:10.1038/nindia.2014.15 Published online 3 February 2014

Researchers have fabricated cell-based sensors that can be used to assess the safety of anticancer drugs by studying drug–cell interactions in various cancers1 . They have successfully used these sensors to probe drug–cell interactions between an anticancer drug and breast cancer cells. These sensors can be used to screen anticancer drugs for cancer therapies.

Breast cancer is the second largest cause of mortality in women. However, existing techniques for screening anticancer drugs for breast and other cancers are time consuming and complex.

To devise a simple and cost-effective technique for screening anticancer drugs, the researchers developed cell-based sensors containing electrodes. They used these sensors to perform electrochemical studies to analyse the interactions between an anilinoquinazoline-based anticancer drug and human breast cancer cells. In addition to probing the toxic effects of the anticancer drug on breast cancer cells, they also measured the impedance (drug–cell interactions opposing the current flow) created by the interactions between the anticancer drug and breast cancer cells.

The sensor detects cells cultured on the electrode surfaces and cells that detach from the electrode surfaces due to drug treatment. At high concentrations, the anticancer drug induced controlled death of breast cancer cells during 24-hour treatment. The proportion of cancer cells that died increased with increasing anticancer drug concentration. The study found that a few cells contributed to the current transport process in the impedance measurement. This resulted in the impedance decreasing with increasing anticancer drug dose.

"This technique is better than current anticancer drug-screening techniques, which perform poorly, ending with the death of cells on the sensors' surfaces," says Rangadhar Pradhan, a co-author of the study.


  1. Pradhan, R. et al. Frequency dependent impedimetric cytotoxic evaluation of anticancer drug on breast cancer cell. Biosens. Bioelectron. 55, 44-50 (2014) | Article |