Pour, Shake and Stir
“Just a single drop from a biological sample such as saliva or blood can potentially be tested in parallel, so that multiple diseases can be tested for in one sitting.”
A diagnostic “cocktail” containing a single drop of blood, a dribble of water, and a dose of DNA powder with gold particles could mean rapid diagnosis and treatment of the world’s leading diseases in the near future. The cocktail diagnostic is a homegrown brew being developed by University of Toronto’s Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering (IBBME) PhD student Kyryl Zagorovsky and Professor Warren Chan that could change the way infectious diseases, from HPV and HIV to malaria, are diagnosed.
And it involves the same technology used in over-the-counter pregnancy tests.
“There’s been a lot of emphasis in developing simple diagnostics,” says IBBME Professor and Canada Research Chair in Nanobiotechnology, Warren Chan. “The question is, how do you make it simple enough, portable enough?”
The recent winner of the NSERC E.W.R. Steacie Memorial Fellowship, Professor Chan and his lab study nanoparticles: in particular, the use of gold particles in sizes so small that they are measured in the nanoscale. Chan and his group are working on custom-designing nanoparticles to target and illuminate cancer cells and tumours, with the potential of one day being able to deliver drugs to cancer cells.
But it’s a study recently published in Angewandte Chemie, a top chemistry journal published out of Germany, that’s raising some interesting questions about the future of this relatively new frontier of science.
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