Bionano Technology Leading the Medical Industry
Professor Choo Jae-beom (Department of Bionano Engineering)
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Professor Choo Jae-beom of the Department of Bionano Engineering is a researcher who studies bionano microfluidics, a study which practical applications to systems in which small volumes of fluids are handled, and develops models that help diagnose different diseases such as respiratory tract infection, and cancer. As shown through his research, “Wash-free magnetic immunoassay of the PSA cancer marker using SERS and droplet microfluidics,” the significance of his research is that it will allow doctors to detect such diseases in patients within a short period of time.
The previous study that Choo had worked on was using pregnancy diagnostic apparatus and the strips to discover different types of diseases. The diagnoses took about 5 weeks, which is usually how long it takes for expectant mothers to find out whether they are pregnant or not. Diagnoses using the microfluidic chips instead of pregnancy diagnostic apparatus will now only take about one week. What is more important is that it will give much more accurate results compared to the last model.
When diseases such as MERS or Zika suddenly appears, there are two things to be taken care of. First, there must be a vaccine to cure the disease and second, the diagnosis of the disease should be quick to discover the new virus. If such diseases hadn’t been known to humankind, there would be no medicine available in the first place. This is why Choo’s research is so important. Shortening the time to analyze the DNA structures of the disease taken from a patient’s blood sample, then decoding it to suggest a cure for the illness will help save many more lives.
Professor Choo’s research points toward methods in detecting prostate cancer at an early stage using microfluidic chips instead of strips. Using strips used to have the method of developing the pregnancy diagnostic apparatus to detect different types of viruses but the new research has taken the equipment to a whole different level. The new hypersensitive protein diagnosis platform technology is carried out through a semiconductor process to build a silicon mold.
Nanoparticles with the microfluidic chips are added inside a mold to hold the samples altogether so that when blood sample is mixed together, the nanoparticles will decidedly combine with the viruses. Once the particles are hit with laser beams, the concentration rate of the virus will be revealed. Knowing the concentration of such viruses is important since all diseases have cut-off points to determine whether the patient is actually contaminated with the virus or not.
The goal of Choo and his research team is to develop an early diagnosis system for infectious diseases using the microfluidic system and through that, developing the vaccine that can just eliminate the viruses. Since the old methods of analyzing the DNA results in a higher percentage of error and takes much longer, Choo is trying to develop his model to be more sensitive, accurate and fast in terms of detecting the viruses.
Microfluidic chips and an optical measuring system combined allows the blood sample to become naturally absorbed within the channel. By measuring the strength of the signals, the virus concentration can be detected. There are different types of nanoparticles, involving elements such as gold (Au) or silver (Ag) and a combination of other elements as well. This is because certain signals are captured when hit with laser beams, and the specific types of disease-provoking protein and DNAs are washed out and the leftover particles within the mold will result in a higher concentration of virus.
Myocardial infarction, cancer, or hormone disorders used to be what Choo focused on in the present studies along with the help of several doctors. Because new, unknown infectious diseases like MERS will become such an issue in the future, he will be working to develop a method to diagnose them in a short period of time.
The technique being used now takes a whole lot of time since it requires a certain amount of blood sample from the patient, with particles needing to be separated using a centrifuge. More procedural steps follow. Strip methods are convenient but with the low sensitivity detection, it is hard to be sure whether the patient is infected with a certain virus or not. This is why decoding blood samples using the microchip reading method, which is fast, precise, and does not require much processes compared to the other analysis methods, is the future study that Choo will be focusing on.
Kim Seung-jun email@example.com
Photos by Moon Ha-na
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