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Using protein immobilization for cancer diagnosis


Schematic showing the microfluidic device used for immobilizing kinase substrates

Kinases are a class of proteins that play an essential role in cell signaling. Usually within a cell, kinase activity is well regulated. However, when this regulation mechanism fails, there are overactive kinases which have been linked to many types of cancers.

Over the past decade, specific kinase inhibitors have been developed for treating cancer. However, the effectiveness of kinase inhibitors varies by patients. Different kinases may be overactive in particular patients and particular kinases may or not have mutations in a particular patient. Our group is creating a quantitative immobilized phase assay to detect specific kinase activity and therefore determine which kinase inhibitors will be most effective for which patients.

The picture on the right shows a schematic for making the device used for the immobilization assay. The microfluidic channels etched into hydrogels are used for immobilizing the kinase substrates. Cell lysates from patients (whose cancers perhaps express over-active kinases) can then be incubated along with the substrates, and the specificity and activity of the kinases can be measured using light intensity from the spots. (Schematic courtesy Andrew Lee and Gargi Ghosh)