Researchers at the University of Toronto, led by Dr. Shana Kelly and Dr. Ted Sargent, are reporting in Nature that they have used a combination of nanoparticles and a microchip to determine the type and severity of a patient’s cancer based on the signature of biomarkers that indicate the presence of cancer at the cellular level.
>Dr. Kelly’s work demonstrates that the cells can be differentiated with these biomarkers because of the cellular genes that indicate aggressive or benign forms. The scanning electron micrograph illustrates the eight variable structures that the system can repeatably track with less than 5% variation. Analysis time is reported to be 30 minutes as compared with contemporary diagnostics tests which can take days.
The researchers’ new device can easily sense the signature biomarkers that indicate the presence of cancer at the cellular level, even though these biomolecules – genes that indicate aggressive or benign forms of the disease and differentiate subtypes of the cancer – are generally present only at low levels in biological samples. Analysis can be completed in 30 minutes, a vast improvement over the existing diagnostic procedures that generally take days.
“Today, it takes a room filled with computers to evaluate a clinically relevant sample of cancer biomarkers and the results aren’t quickly available,” said Shana Kelley, a professor in the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy and the Faculty of Medicine, who was a lead investigator on the project and a co-author on the publication.
“Our team was able to measure biomolecules on an electronic chip the size of your fingertip and analyse the sample within half an hour. The instrumentation required for this analysis can be contained within a unit the size of a BlackBerry.”
Press release: U of T researchers create microchip that can detect type and severity of cancer…
Nature: Programming nucleic acids detection sensitivity using controlled nanostructuring
University of Toronto: Shana Kelly Lab
(hat tip: Next Big Future)