With the vision of P4 medicine (Predictive, Personalized, Preventive, Participatory), we develop enabling biotechnologies for:
- The discovery and validation of molecular biomarkers for health care and disease management in biofluids, cells, extracellular vesicles, and tissue samples;
- The translation of these molecular biomarkers to clinical practices, for both laboratory tests and point-of-care applications.
- Food safety.
Our research topics include:
Biochips for the quantification of circulating biomarkers
The detection of circulating biomarkers enables non-invasive and personalized health and disease monitoring based on each individual’s own baseline. Among different types of biomarkers, we are particularly interested in proteins and extracellular vesicles (EVs). Proteins can provide direct implications on health status at the functional level. EVs are abundant and stable in biofluids, carrying similar molecular contents as their cells of origin, therefore can be excellent surrogates for cancer cell detection. We develop highly sensitive and multiplexed biochips for the profiling of circulating protein and EV markers that can be used for personalized and early cancer diagnostics, prognostics and treatment monitoring.
Protein detection in tissues and cells
Immunostaining of tissue slices and cells can reveal the distribution and localization of specific protein markers in tissues or individual cells. Conventional immunohistochemistry and immunocytochemistry techniques have been widely used in both research and clinical labs, but the assays suffer from interpretation bias, low multiplexing capacity, and lack of standardization. Also, the conventional assay procedure is lengthy and expensive, unsuitable for convenient and cost-effective disease diagnostics in a low-resource setting.
We develop lab-on-a-chip technologies for multiplexed protein quantification in tissues and cells, aiming to provide accurate, convenient-to-use and affordable solutions for biomedical applications.
Assay development for laboratory and point-of-care testing
Once a potential biomarker (panel) has been validated, it is critical to develop laboratory and/or point-of-care tests for clinical translation. To meet the clinical needs and realize personalized health monitoring and disease management, we leverage multidisciplinary research approaches in micro and nano-fabrication, microfluidics, bio-optics, electrochemistry, mass spectrometry, and computer engineering for the development of clinical tests.
Our goals are: (i) to develop accurate, robust, and rapid laboratory tests to meet the unmet clinical needs for cancer and other complex diseases; (2) to establish convenient-to-use and low cost point-of-care devices for time-course based routine health check and disease screening, contributing to eHealth and personalized medicine.
Hydrogel-based biochemical assays
Hydrogels are hydrophilic polymers that can hold a large amount of water while maintaining their 3D structures. Their biocompatibility, high water content, and availability at a reasonable cost makes them widely used in tissue engineering, drug delivery, and food industry. We take advantage of the physical and chemical properties of some natural hydrogels to develop high-throughput biochemical assays for cancer research. These technologies will enable the establishment of personalized cancer diagnostics and will accelerate individualized treatment, offering a helping hand to cancer patients.