Navigation Links
New biosensor microchip could speed up drug development, Stanford researchers say

Stanford researchers have developed a new biosensor microchip that could significantly speed up the process of drug development. The microchips, packed with highly sensitive "nanosensors," analyze how proteins bind to one another, a critical step for evaluating the effectiveness and possible side effects of a potential medication.

A single centimeter-sized array of the nanosensors can simultaneously and continuously monitor thousands of times more protein-binding events than any existing sensor. The new sensor is also able to detect interactions with greater sensitivity and deliver the results significantly faster than the present "gold standard" method.

"You can fit thousands, even tens of thousands, of different proteins of interest on the same chip and run the protein-binding experiments in one shot," said Shan Wang, a professor of materials science and engineering, and of electrical engineering, who led the research effort.

"In theory, in one test, you could look at a drug's affinity for every protein in the human body," said Richard Gaster, MD/PhD candidate in bioengineering and medicine, who is the first author of a paper describing the research that was published online this month by Nature Nanotechnology.

The power of the nanosensor array lies in two advances. First, the use of magnetic nanotags attached to the protein being studied such as a medication greatly increases the sensitivity of the monitoring.

Second, an analytical model the researchers developed enables them to accurately predict the final outcome of an interaction based on only a few minutes of monitoring data. Current techniques typically monitor no more than four simultaneous interactions and the process can take hours.

"I think their technology has the potential to revolutionize how we do bioassays," said P.J. Utz, associate professor of medicine (immunology and rheumatology) at Stanford University Medical Center, who was not involved in the research.

Members of Wang's research group developed the magnetic nanosensor technology several years ago and demonstrated its sensitivity in experiments in which they showed that it could detect a cancer-associated protein biomarker in mouse blood at a thousandth of the concentration that commercially available techniques could detect. That research was described in a 2009 paper in Nature Medicine.

The researchers tailor the nanotags to attach to the particular protein being studied. When a nanotag-equipped protein binds with another protein that is attached to a nanosensor, the magnetic nanotag alters the ambient magnetic field around the nanosensor in a small but distinct way that is sensed by the detector.

"Let's say we are looking at a breast cancer drug," Gaster said. "The goal of the drug is to bind to the target protein on the breast cancer cells as strongly as possible. But we also want to know: How strongly does that drug aberrantly bind to other proteins in the body?"

To determine that, the researchers would put breast cancer proteins on the nanosensor array, along with proteins from the liver, lungs, kidneys and any other kind of tissue that they are concerned about. Then they would add the medication with its magnetic nanotags attached and see which proteins the drug binds with and how strongly.

"We can see how strongly the drug binds to breast cancer cells and then also how strongly it binds to any other cells in the human body such as your liver, kidneys and brain," Gaster said. "So we can start to predict the adverse affects to this drug without ever putting it in a human patient."

It is the increased sensitivity to detection that comes with the magnetic nanotags that enables Gaster and Wang to determine not only when a bond forms, but also its strength.

"The rate at which a protein binds and releases, tells how strong the bond is," Gaster said. That can be an important factor with numerous medications.

"I am surprised at the sensitivity they achieved," Utz said. "They are detecting on the order of between 10 and 1,000 molecules and that to me is quite surprising."

The nanosensor is based on the same type of sensor used in computer hard drives, Wang said.

"Because our chip is completely based on existing microelectronics technology and procedures, the number of sensors per area is highly scalable with very little cost," he said.

Although the chips used in the work described in the Nature Nanotechnology paper had a little more than 1,000 sensors per square centimeter, Wang said it should be no problem to put tens of thousands of sensors on the same footprint.

"It can be scaled to over 100,000 sensors per centimeter, without even pushing the technology limits in microelectronics industry," he said.

Wang said he sees a bright future for increasingly powerful nanosensor arrays, as the technology infrastructure for making such nanosensor arrays is in place today.

"The next step is to marry this technology to a specific drug that is under development," Wang said. "That will be the really killer application of this technology."


Contact: Louis Bergeron
Stanford University

Related biology news :

1. K-State chemists biosensor may improve food, water safety and cancer detection
2. Directed self-assembly of vertical nanotubes for biosensors, logic, nano-biofuel cells
3. Carnegie Mellon researchers create fluorescent biosensor to aid in drug development
4. Carbon nanotubes form ultrasensitive biosensor to detect proteins
5. Biosensors reveal how single bacterium gets the message to split into a swimming and a stay-put cell
6. UCLA researchers show how worlds smallest coffee ring may help biosensors detect disease
7. New biosensors reveal workings of anti-psychotic drugs in the living brain
8. UTSA wins $500,000 to develop biosensor and regenerative medicine Ph.D. program
9. Nano-tetherball biosensor precisely detects glucose
10. Photonic crystal biosensors detect protein-DNA interactions
11. Microchip patented which separates and extracts tumor cells in the blood
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
New biosensor microchip could speed up drug development, Stanford researchers say
(Date:11/11/2015)... MINNETONKA, Minn. , Nov. 11, 2015   MedNet ... the entire spectrum of clinical research, is pleased to announce ... Partnerships in Clinical Trials (PCT) event, to be held ... will be able to view live demonstrations of ... platform, and learn how iMedNet has been able ...
(Date:11/9/2015)... Nov. 9, 2015  Synaptics Inc. (NASDAQ: SYNA ... announced broader entry into the automotive market with a ... the pace of consumer electronics human interface innovation. Synaptics, ... ideal for the automotive industry and will be implemented ... Europe , Japan , ...
(Date:10/29/2015)...  The J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI) policy group ... Biosecurity: Lessons Learned and Options for the Future," which ... Services guidance for synthetic biology providers has worked since ... --> --> Synthetic biology promises great ... pose unique biosecurity threats. It now is easier than ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/25/2015)... Nov. 25, 2015 Orexigen® Therapeutics, Inc. (Nasdaq: ... in a fireside chat discussion at the Piper Jaffray ... . The discussion is scheduled for Wednesday, December ... .  A replay will be available for 14 ... , Julie NormartVP, Corporate Communications and Business Development ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... N.J. (PRWEB) , ... November 24, 2015 , ... The ... the recipient of the 2016 USGA Green Section Award. Presented annually since 1961, the ... through his or her work with turfgrass. , Clarke, of Iselin, N.J., ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... , ... November 24, 2015 , ... ... healthy metabolism. But unless it is bound to proteins, copper is also toxic ... (NIH), researchers at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) will conduct a systematic study of ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... 2015 --> ... "Oligonucleotide Synthesis Market by Product & Services (Primer, Probe, ... DNA, RNAi), End-User (Research, Pharmaceutical & Biotech, Diagnostic Labs) ... market is expected to reach USD 1,918.6 Million by ... CAGR of 10.1% during the forecast period. ...
Breaking Biology Technology: