Miniature Electronic Chips to Probe Biomolecules
Despite advances in modern medicine, a number of diseases remain difficult to treat because we lack sufficient insight into their molecular origins. This is true of several types of cancer as well as degenerative diseases that strike many Canadians every year.
To properly understand the mechanism behind these diseases, researchers and physicians need better instruments that can solve the puzzle of how the multiple biological molecules involved interact. The challenge is that these molecules are difficult to observe directly, since they are extremely small, fast-moving and easily destabilized outside their natural environments.
Dr. Delphine Bouilly, Canada Research Chair in Bio-nanoelectronics, is developing new measurement instruments to probe biological molecules and their interactions. Bouilly and her research team are designing and manufacturing nano-sized electric circuits comparable in size to biological molecules. These ultra-miniature circuits are used to immobilize an individual molecule and characterize its movements and interactions with other molecules in real time. Their work builds on the most recent advances in nanotechnology and on a strong interdisciplinary team of specialists in physics, chemistry, engineering and biology.
The research by Bouilly and her team will generate pioneering knowledge about the mechanics of elementary biomolecules, paving the way for new drugs and medical therapies. The resulting technology will also be used to design stronger instruments for core research, pharmaceutical tests and clinical diagnosis.