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U of T researchers create microchip that can detect type and severity of cancer
Date:9/28/2009

Queen's University, found that conventional, flat metal electrical sensors were inadequate to sense cancer's particular biomarkers. Instead, they designed and fabricated a chip and decorated it with nanometre-sized wires and molecular "bait."

"Uniting DNA the molecule of life with speedy, miniaturized electronic chips is an example of cross-disciplinary convergence," says Sargent. "By working with outstanding researchers in nanomaterials, pharmaceutical sciences, and electrical engineering, we were able to demonstrate that controlled integration of nanomaterials provides a major advantage in disease detection and analysis."

The speed and accuracy provided by their device is welcome news to cancer researchers.

"We rely on the measurement of biomarkers to detect cancer and to know if treatments are working," says Dr. Tom Hudson, president and scientific director of the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research. "The discovery by Dr. Kelley and her team offers the possibility of a faster, more cost-effective technology that could be used anywhere, speeding up diagnosis and helping to deliver a more targeted treatment to the patient."

The team's microchip platform has been tested on prostate cancer, as described in a paper published in ACS Nano, and head and neck cancer models. It could potentially be used to diagnose and assess other cancers, as well as infectious diseases such as HIV, MRSA and H1N1 flu.

"The system developed by the Kelley/Sargent team is a revolutionary technology that could allow us to track biomarkers that might have significant relevance to cancer, with a combination of speed, sensitivity, and accuracy not available with any current technology," says Dr. Fei-Fei Liu, a radiation oncologist at Princess Margaret Hospital and Head of Applied Molecular Oncology Division, Ontario Cancer Institute. "This type of approach could have a profound impact on the future management for our cancer patients."


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Contact: April Kemick
april.kemick@utoronto.ca
416-978-0100
University of Toronto
Source:Eurekalert

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