Drugs used in cancer treatments, in chemotherapy, often fall short of their goal. Expensive and complex testing methods hamper discovery. A team at the Singaporean Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN) has developed a miniaturized biological assay called the Droplet Array to perform less expensive and faster drug screening that is more convenient and uses much smaller samplings.

Droplet Array for Cancer drug screening at Institute of Bioengineering and NanotechnologyRather than using microplates with wells that require between 2,500 to 5,000 cells, the new IBN Droplet Array approach needs only 500 cells in each well. This is especially beneficial when working with scarce cancer stem cells. Pipettes drop the samples into many 2mm round wells on the rectangular plate.

Researchers took cancer stem cells from cancer tumors in breast, liver and colon cases.


Chemotherapy drugs
that kill liver cancer cells were not as effective is stopping the stem cells from that or from the breast or colon cell samples. The residual cancer stem cells can reproduce and lead to a recurrence of a person?s cancer.

The research team, lead by Executive Director, Professor Jackie Y. Ying, demonstrated that those cancer stem cells can survive chemotherapy and be the catalyst for metastasis, or spreading of the disease.

Jackie Y. Ying, Executive Director of IBN.Dr Ying, who holds a degree in Chemical Engineering from Princeton University is credited with nearly 40 patents in conjunction with researchers in her field.

His team at the Singapore based institute includes Dr Karthikeyan Narayanan, Dr. Yong Yeow Lee and Dr Shujun Gao. Dr. Ying says she hopes that the new nanotechnology and lab-on-a-chip concept will facilitate the development of more effective cancer drugs.

Labs can easily adapt to the new technology, since the Droplet Array was designed for ease of use.

The miniaturized biochip is compatible with existing laboratory instruments.