Nanomaterials could revolutionize healthcare by enabling more efficient diagnostic devices and therapeutic agents. Nanowires, nanotubes, nanoparticles, and quantum dots are thought to be a vital part of next-generation biosensors applicable to point of care diagnostics, prognosis, and drug decision making. Additionally, nanomedicine deals with the design of nanoscale particles that achieve targeted delivery of drugs improving their efficacy.

In collaboration with the group of Shana Kelley in the Faculty of Pharmacy and Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto, we are prototyping devices used for selective and sensitive readout of nucleic acid sequences and protein biomarkers. Through the manipulation of the size, morphology, and composition of our electrodes in the nanoscale, and the development of new assays, we achieve sensitivity, selectivity, and dynamic range useful for the detection of molecular analytes relevant to disease diagnosis, organ transplant prognosis, and stem cell culture monitoring and control.

Circulating tumor cells (CTCs) are shed into the vasculature from primary tumors and have been shown to contribute to the formation of metastatic lesions in model systems. Monitoring these circulating cells therefore presents, in principle, a means to monitor a tumor’s metastatic potential in real time. Together with Prof. Kelley’s lab, we have developed microfluidics-enabled chip-based biosensors for the isolation and detection of CTCs from patient blood samples. The microfluidic chip also enables sorting of the CTCs based on their phenotypic characteristics. Differentiation between different subtypes of CTCs gives us insight on how CTCs evolve in the course of disease progression and helps us learn about the role of these cells in cancer metastasis.

Selected Publications

Das, J. et al. An electrochemical clamp assay for direct, rapid analysis of circulating nucleic acids in serum. Nature Chemistry 7, 569–575 (2015)

Lam, B. et al. Programmable definition of nanogap electronic devices using self-inhibited reagent depletion. Nat. Commun. 6, 6940 (2015)

Kelley, S. O. et al. Advancing the speed, sensitivity and accuracy of biomolecular detection using multi-length-scale engineering. Nat. Nano. 9, 969-980 (2015)