• cancer diagnosis;
  • hydrogen evolution reaction;
  • circulating cancer cells;
  • gold nanoparticles;
  • electrocatalytic properties


A rapid cancer cell detection and quantification assay, based on the electrocatalytic properties of gold nanoparticles towards the hydrogen evolution reaction, is described. The selective labeling of cancer cells is performed in suspension, allowing a fast interaction between the gold nanoparticle labels and the target proteins expressed at the cell membrane. The subsequent electrochemical detection is accomplished with small volumes of sample and user-friendly equipment through a simple electrochemical method that generates a fast electrochemical response used for the quantification of nanoparticle-labeled cancer cells. The system establishes a selective cell-detection assay capable of detecting 4 × 103 cancer cells in suspension that can be extended to several other cells detection scenarios.