19 December 2011

Karen Martinez gets 12.3 MDKK allocated to the development of a new biochip platform

The funds for the research project: "High content analysis of single cells with subcellular resolution using nanowire arrays" comes from the Danish Council for Strategic Research and the project is implemented in collaboration with Novartis.

New research has shown that living cells can absorb ultra-thin nanowires without compromising their function. This knowledge will Karen Martinez and her research group at the Nano-Science Center, Department of Neuroscience and Pharmacology exploit to develop a new biochip platform for testing new drugs based on forests of nanowires.

Nanowires or nanowires are tiny semiconductors that, depending on what they are being built, have different properties. It can for example be used to conduct electricity, and will have a central role in the development of new electronics and sensors.

The pharmaceutical industry is constantly looking for candidates for new drugs. In the initial stages of this hunt basic tests are run where individual cells are exposed to a potential drug and the reaction is followed using optical techniques. This is where the research team can contribute to the development of new drugs. One of their new ideas is to exploit the nanowires distinctive electrical properties to release substances into cells by means of electrical signals. This will open up entirely new possibilities for tests in which the cell reaction can be followed with time resolution, and where several substances can be released in a controlled manner.

The research team will work with substances that are relevant for developing drugs against diabetes, cancer and heart disease. The project conducted by University of Copenhagen in collaboration with the Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis.