Tumors shed some of their DNA into the bloodstream, leaving a signature of their presence if one could look in the blood with enough sensitivity to find it. Unfortunately, finding cancer DNA in blood is like looking for a needle in a haystack, due to its similarity to the abundant DNA from normal cells.
Using new physics methods invented here at UBC, we have developed a method to extract cancer DNA from blood to make it detectable. We can find even a single molecule of cancer DNA in a blood sample that could be hidden among 10,000 times more normal DNA strands. With this method we hope to provide better monitoring of cancer to improve cancer treatment, and ultimately a method for early cancer detection.
By: Dr. Andre Marziali, Director and Professor, Engineering Physics; Founder and CSO, Boreal Genomics
Dr. Marziali received his B.A.Sc. in Engineering Physics from UBC, and his PhD in Physics from Stanford University. In 2004, Dr. Marziali co-invented the concept of using synchronous mobility perturbations to create divergent velocity fields for selectively focusing nucleic acids. This technology is the basis of a spin-off company, Boreal Genomics Inc. founded in 2007 by Dr. Marziali and colleagues to commercialize high performance instruments for DNA and RNA purification, and now developing novel cancer diagnostics methods.