The multi-welled microplate, long a standard tool in biomedical research and diagnostic laboratories, could become a thing of the past thanks to new electronic biosensing technology developed by a team of microelectronics engineers and biomedical scientists at the Georgia Institute of Technology.
Essentially arrays of tiny test tubes, microplates have been used for decades to simultaneously test multiple samples for their responses to chemicals, living organisms or antibodies. Fluorescence or color changes in labels associated with compounds on the plates can signal the presence of particular proteins or gene sequences.
The researchers hope to replace these microplates with modern microelectronics technology, including disposable arrays containing thousands of electronic sensors connected to powerful signal processing circuitry. If they're successful, this new electronic biosensing platform could help realize the dream of personalized medicine by making possible real-time disease diagnosis potentially in a physician's office and by helping select individualized therapeutic approaches.
"This technology could help facilitate a new era of personalized medicine," said John McDonald, chief research scientist at the Ovarian Cancer Institute in Atlanta and a professor in the Georgia Tech School of Biology. "A device like this could quickly detect in individuals the gene mutations that are indicative of cancer and then determine what would be the optimal treatment. There are a lot of potential applications for this that cannot be done with current analytical and diagnostic technology."
Fundamental to the new biosensing system is the ability to electronically detect markers that differentiate between healthy and diseased cells. These markers could be differences in proteins, mutations in DNA or even specific levels of ions that exist at different amounts in cancer cells. Researchers are finding more and more differences like
|Contact: John Toon|
Georgia Institute of Technology Research News