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Technology and Health News > Wednesday, September-10-2008

A bio-sensor for cancer

To isolate individual cells of the immune system and study the interaction in order to improve the treatment of cancer. At this will serve the new biosensor prototype developed under the project Cochise (Cell-On-CHIp bioSEnsor), supported by the European Union and coordinated by Roberto Guerrieri, professor of Electronics at the Faculty of Engineering, University of Bologna .

The biological approach used to treat cancer patients consisting of interferon, interleukin-2 or other factors stimulating the growth of different cell types and able to reinforce the natural defenses of the body. But these substances are not always well tolerated. An alternative approach is to identify the immune cells able to fight cancer, cultivate them in vitro and then re-introduce them in the body. But here the problem lies in identifying and in isolating the small number of cells that are selectively able to fight cancer.

The objective of the project Cochise (which is intended to last three years), is to develop a new class of biosensors capable of isolating cells (not more than 1 in 10 thousand) that are actually effective in fighting cancer cells . As the first objective was developed a prototype, used to demonstrate the possibility of controlling the flow of two individual cells and putting them in a display where you can study the interaction.

In addition to immunotherapy, there are many fields of application for this. Several drugs, in fact, have the ability to increase or prevent the destruction of cells: the technology developed through the project could open new opportunities so that every patient is treated with drugs really effective for its specific situation.

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