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Professor Seung-ki Lee and his research team develops a biosensor that improves prostate cancer diagnosis rates by 100-fold
Writer 글로벌전략팀 김유인
Date 2019.01.03
View Count 411
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Three diagnosis patents using 'biosensor combining optical fiber, gold nanoparticles.' Groundbreaking change expected in the field of cancer diagnosis
Strong potential of commercialization with biosensor diagnosis technology that can be applied to various cancers in addition to prostate cancer

A Dankook University research team is in the spotlight for its development of a biosensor that raises prostate cancer detection rates by more than a hundredfold compared to current levels. The team is led by Professor Seung-ki Lee and Professor Jae-hyoung Park along with researcher Hyeong-min Kim of the Department of Electronics and Electrical Engineering.

The biosensor developed by Professor Lee’s team is made of a structure where gold nanoparticles are attached to the surface of optical fibers on top of which a microfluidic chip is added. Blood is dropped onto the biosensor where the prostate cancer antigens blend with antibodies on the surface of gold nanoparticles and send a specific optical signal which enables diagnosing whether cancer has occurred or not. According to the research team, the new biosensor is forecast to trigger innovation in the field of prostate cancer diagnosis as its ability to detect antigens is 100 times more effective than existing equipment, not to mention having a shorter testing time of only 5 minutes. The diagnosis error factor also drops from the current 10~15% to 4%.

According to professor Lee, “the antigen reaction takes place along optical fibers with ultra-thin diameters of 250㎛ (micrometers), detecting 124fg [femtogram, 1fg refers to 10-15 g (10 to the power of negative 15, 1 in 1 quadrillion grams)] of antigens in 1ml, proving the excellence of the diagnosis technology.” In other words, optical technology comes together with biosensors and nano technology. Professor Lee explained that “while prostate cancer is the 5th most common cancer among Korean men, treatment becomes very expensive if not diagnosed early on,” and added that “the newly developed biosensor can be commercially produced at around 2~3,000 KRW, attracting the attention of domestic and foreign medical equipment players.”

Currently, prostate cancer is diagnosed by 1) measuring prostate specific antigen (PSA) protein levels in blood·urine, 2) digital rectal examination (DRE), 3) prostate ultrasound, and 4) biopsy. Among them, the biosensor developed by Professor Lee’s team is based on the PSA protein measurement method. “This technology is reliable for clinical feasibility,” says Professor Lee who added that “the biosensor technology will be able to be used not only for diagnosing prostate cancer but also for detecting various other cancers that react to antibodies.”

This study was carried out with the support of the National Research Foundation of Korea’s Promising Future Convergence Technology Pioneer Program and the Mid-career Researcher Support Program. In addition to developing the biosensor, the research team completed applications for and registered three patent licenses: a surface plasmon resonance sensor device and sensor unit manufacturing method using microfluidic channels, a surface plasmon resonance sensor signal correction method, and a surface plasmon resonance sensor testing method. The research outcome was published in the international academic journal Sensors and Actuators B on November 10.