Cancer treatment options could improve with Lincoln nanodevice

lab bottles

The medical development comes from the labs at the University of Lincoln (Photo: University of Lincoln)

The detection and treatment of cancer could be greatly improved by a nanodevice to be developed by a team of researchers, some from the University of Lincoln.

Alongside scientists from Italy, Argentina, and the United States, the Lincoln team are attempting to create a “nanodecoder” which provides more accurate detection of biological markers and simulations of molecules.

Lincoln’s contribution, led by Dr Enrico Ferrari from the School of Life Sciences and Dr Ishwar Singh from the School of Pharmacy, will be to create a two-way molecular connector, binding the proteins to the DNA scaffold.

Dr Ferrari has already done successful research in the sector, creating a bio-theraputic molecule to treat neurological disorders.

He explained his efforts on the nanodecoder project: “Once a cancer has been diagnosed the next stage is to try various treatment methods, but it is often difficult to understand the specific effect of treatment. This nanodecoder is the perfect tool to be able to both diagnose cancer accurately and record therapeutic effects.

“Our hybrid nanodevice is an artificial device made out of DNA and protein. Molecules arranged in a very specific way can perform a function – this is what we are trying to achieve, in an artificial way.

“It’s like DNA origami; it’s possible to engineer different shaped molecules but we want to engineer molecules that also have a function. After this project, we will be in a position to claim we have a very well defined expertise to make hybrid molecular devices.”

The project has been largely funded by a €441,000 grant from the EU’s Marie Skłodowska-Curie Research and Innovation Staff Exchange (RISE), which aims to create “a shared culture of research and innovation that welcomes and rewards creativity and entrepreneurship and helps to turn creative ideas into innovative products, services or processes”.

This means that other nanotechnology and molecular science research projects will share ideas and findings with the Lincoln project.

Once the nanodecoder has been developed, it will be tested at the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina and on patients at the Hospital of Udine, Italy.

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