University of Bath develops new biochip device for cancer drug development

8 April 2015 (Last Updated April 8th, 2015 18:30)

A team of researchers from the University of Bath have developed aPhosphoSense biochip device, which will help speed up the discovery of new life-saving drugs in a more cost effective way.

University of Bath biochip technology

A team of researchers from the University of Bath have developed aPhosphoSense biochip device, which will help speed up the discovery of new life-saving drugs in a more cost effective way.

Used to screen compounds for use in new drugs, the PhosphoSense biochip can detect activity of enzymes called kinases, which regulate a number of important biological processes in normal healthy human cells for survival.

When kinases become over-active or disregulated, they can cause a range of life-threatening diseases including cancer, autoimmune disorders, Alzheimer's and diabetes.

By monitoring the activity of enzymes, the biochip can allow drug companies to measure the effect of a large number of compounds, helping researchers choose which should be developed into drugs to fight against diseases.

"By monitoring the activity of enzymes, the biochip can allow drug companies to measure the effect of a large number of compounds, helping researchers choose which should be developed into drugs to fight against diseases."

The PhosphoSense biochip was developed at the University of Bath by Dr Pedro Estrela, PhD student Nikhil Bhalla, Dr Mirella Di Lorenzo and Dr Giordano Pula.

University of Bath Department of Pharmacy and Pharmacology lecturer Dr Giordano Pula said: "This technology has the potential to change the drug discovery process as we know it and facilitate the development of new drugs for diseases like cancer, stroke and dementia.

"The simplicity is the strength of this technology. This discovery significantly simplifies the analysis of protein kinase activity and frees it from the use of radioisotopes or antibodies."

This technology combines semiconductor devices that measure protein kinase activity by calculating pH change, which indicates the effectiveness of a drug compound in blocking kinase activity.

The team of researchers at University of Bath are keen to work alongside industrial partners to develop the system into a prototype that can be used by pharmaceutical companies.


Image: University of Bath's new biochip technology could help in the fight against cancer and other deadly diseases. Photo: courtesy of University of Bath.