[Name]: Yi Xi "Michael" Wu
[Department]: Pharmaceutical Sciences
[Mentor]: Andrej Luptak
Project Title: Bladder Cancer Dipstick Test: An Innovative Approach for Simultaneous Biomarker Discovery and Assay Development
Biomarkers harness the potential to improve the standard care of current medical practices. Conventional methods for biomarker discovery rely on analytical techniques to identify biomarkers based on clinical or experimental observations, and once identified, validation and assay development follows. However, current discovery to translation of biomarkers for clinical practices require labor intensive, time consuming, and expensive procedures. Due to these challenges, not many reliable biomarkers have been identified and implemented for clinical practices. New approaches are urgently needed to improve the effectiveness of biomarker discovery and translation.
To tackle this obstacle, I am developing a platform that will expedite the process between biomarker discovery and clinical application. Using DNA aptamer technology, molecular probes tunable to recognize specific environments, and clinical samples, aptamer based biosensors can be developed to identify and distinguish diseased samples from healthy ones. As a proof of concept, this technology is being used to identify and generate urinary-based aptamer biosensors for bladder cancer detection and surveillance. The core technology of this platform employs the in vitro selection method to evolve, or condition, functional aptamers to recognize the molecular composition of bladder cancer urine without prior knowledge of the molecular composition of the clinical samples. Currently, we have multiple functional-aptamers that recognize bladder cancer associated-molecules in clinically diagnosed bladder cancer urine samples. These aptamers can also be multiplex to display the molecular fingerprint associated with bladder cancer urine samples. Presently, identification of the cancer-associated molecular markers are underway as well as the fabrication of a simple-to-use urine dipstick assay for bladder cancer detection and surveillance. Applying in vitro selection technique with functional DNA aptamers encoded with signal generating capabilities forms a synergetic combination suited for the concurrency of biomarker discovery and assay development. Achieving this will be extraordinary and paradigm shifting for the future of medicine.