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Researcher will develop cancer-detecting device

UTSC chemist Bernie Kraatz will develop a device that could help detect cancers and determine which treatments to use.

Chemist Bernie Kraatz is developing a device that could help detect the type of cancer a patient is suffering from and determine the best treatment. The work, being done in partnership with David Litchfield at Western University, is being funded by a $200,000 Canadian Cancer Society Innovation Grant.

“The idea is to monitor kinases,” says Kraatz. “These are proteins that govern every fundamental life process, from telling a cell when to divide to telling a cell when to die.”

Humans have hundreds of different protein kinases which control complex cellular processes. Protein kinases are also involved in cancer growth. By detecting the presence of different kinases, the researchers hope to be able to tell when cancer is occurring, what type of cancer it is, and what treatment options might be best.

In previous work, Kraatz has made tiny devices that detect a number of different kinds of proteins. The devices use custom-designed molecules that bind only to specific proteins. With the grant Kraatz will develop a microchip that includes many different sensors and can screen for a number of kinases at the same time.

Kraatz will work with Litchfield, a professor of biochemistry at Western, and a team of other researchers to test the devices using blood samples and cell lines from leukemia patients.

The Canadian Cancer Society announced the grant as one of 37 totalling $7.2 million across the country.

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