Future Prospects of Application of Nanobiotechnology for Biomarkers

Nanobiotechnology is progressing rapidly and the impact will be felt on discovery of biomarkers. Nanotechnology offers the possibility to create devices which can screen for disease biomarkers at very fast rates. The tools will be developed by identifying biomarkers for particular diseases that can then lead to diagnostic tests. One project in this area draws together the expertise of a team of researchers from the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology at The University of Queensland (UQ), the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centere (Seattle, WA), and the Seattle Biomedical Research Institute. This project is supported by a contribution of $2 million from the Queensland State Government through the National and International Research Alliances Program. In addition to Alliances funding, the project will receive support from the participating institutes and UQ spin-off company Nanomics Biosystems Pty Ltd.

Scientists at the California Institute of Technology (Pasadena, CA) are pursuing an approach to early detection of cancer that is based on tiny circuits with nanosize transistors. Each transistor can be attached to an antibody, a biological molecule specially designed to attach to a biomarker. When the antibody binds to the biomarker, the transistor's ability to conduct electricity changes slightly, signaling the biomarker's presence. The long-term goal is to build a circuit analogous to a microscopic computer chip that can detect hundreds or thousands of biomarkers in a single test that could catch early cancers that would otherwise go undetected.

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