NanoCircDx is a colorectal cancer screening platform built by students from NTHU_iGEM. We are committed to increasing the early detection rate of colorectal cancer in order to enhance the chances of successful treatment for patients. A detailed overview of our project can be found on our Project Description page.

Colorectal Cancer Post a Great Threat to Humankind

Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer globally and the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in 2022, resulting in nearly one million deaths annually [1].


Insufficient precision:

The fecal immunochemical test (FIT) has shown a misdiagnosis rate of up to 30%, underscoring the urgent need to develop an alternative detection method with higher accuracy.


The preparation of colonoscopy is cumbersome and time-consuming:

Prior to the colonoscopy, individuals are required to consume a large amount of bowel preparation solution the day before the procedure and can only drink water.



The invasion of colonoscopy generally lowers the public's willingness to undergo such a medical procedure.

Colorectal Cancer Post a Great Threat to Humankind

Problem Fig. 1

Current screening methods for colorectal cancer primarily involve the Fecal immunochemical test (FIT). If blood is detected in the stool sample, further examination is typically conducted by doctors using colonoscopy to observe the presence of polyps in the colon. However, this screening method has several drawbacks, such as inconvenience and high invasiveness.

Our Solution

Research has demonstrated that early detection can make colorectal cancer highly curable. Therefore, we have decided to develop a diagnostic technology platform for cancer screening using liquid biopsy. With just a tube of blood sample provided by individuals, we can determine the potential presence of colorectal cancer through circular RNA (circRNA) detection in the serum. We use two detection methods for our experiments:


RCA (Rolling Circle Amplification) is an isothermal amplification method performed at around 60-65°C. This process generates long-repeated complementary DNA (cDNA). [2]


After RCA process, the resulting cDNA are mixed with probe-conjugated gold (AuNPs) nanoparticles solution. The probes on the surface of AUNPs then recognize and bind to those cDNA products.


When treating the mixed solution with salts, the presence of cDNA in the probe-conjugated gold nanoparticle solution (indicating a high circRNA level) prevents the aggregation of AuNPs, resulting in a red color. Conversely, the absence of cDNA (indicating a low circRNA level) leads to a blue-purple color.


RT-RPA (Reverse Transcription-Recombinase Polymerase Amplification) is an amplification method. It offers an isothermal alternative to PCR(Polymerase Chain Reaction) [3].

After the RT-RPA, the amplicons are applied to the lateral flow cassette (PCRD). The presence of amplicons (depicted in white) with different tags (blue, yellow, and green) initially binds to carbon particles. Subsequently, they are recognized by their respective antibodies on the test lines, resulting in a black coloration.

Problem Fig. 2

Three lines (one control line and two test lines) indicates a high risk of developing colorectal cancer. Conversely, one line observed represents a negative outcome.

Read more on the Experiment page.

Unique Selling Points

NanoCircDx presents clear benefits compared to existing methods for colorectal cancer detection. Our approach needs just one tube of blood sample to evaluate the potential of colorectal cancer, offering:
1. Early identification of the disease.
2. Enhanced accuracy and speed in screening.
3. Greater user acceptance.
4. Non-invasive procedure.

Read more on the Entrepreneurship page.

Unique selling points




We combined our project with four SDGS to contribute to the creation of a sustainable life.
3 - Good Health and Well-Being:
Increase screening rates and reduce colorectal cancer mortality by developing a less minimally invasive, highly accurate, and cost-effective method for colorectal cancer detection.
4 - Quality Education:
Make colorectal cancer information accessible to the public through camps, social media, and a wiki game.
9 - Industry, Innovation, And Infrastructure:
To venture into entrepreneurship, creating more job opportunities and accelerating innovation within the liquid biopsy technology sector.
17 - Partnerships for The Goals:
Engaged in cross-border and cross-disciplinary collaborations with numerous iGEM teams. [4]

Read more on the Sustainable Development Impact page.

Future Potential

Current circular RNA detection methods are limited to lab settings and lack rapid screening. Our study has great potential to establish swift circular RNA biomarker screening for colorectal cancer. Furthermore, we intend to expand this concept for diagnosing diverse diseases and their related circular RNAs in the future.

Future potential

Watch our promotion video!


[1] World Health Organization. (2023, July 11). News Room. World Health Organization.

[2] Boss, M., & Arenz, C. (2020). A Fast and Easy Method for Specific Detection of Circular RNA by Rolling-Circle Amplification. Chembiochem: a European journal of chemical biology, 21(6), 793-796.

[3] Salazar, A., Ochoa-Corona, F. M., Talley, J. L., & Noden, B. H. (2021). Recombinase polymerase amplification (RPA) with lateral flow detection for three Anaplasma species of importance to livestock health. Scientific reports, 11(1), 15962.

[4] The Global Goals. (2015). Home. The Global Goals.