Dean Felsher on how nanoscale fluids might help treat cancer

He has created a device that could help doctors identify what are called “oncoproteins.” This research might eventually enable doctors to better diagnose and treat early-stage cancers.

Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine have created a device that could help doctors identify what are called “oncoproteins.” This research might eventually enable doctors to better diagnose and treat early-stage cancers.

The oncoproteins are telltale chemicals produced by tumors even at their earliest stages. Earth & Sky spoke with Stanford researcher Dean Felsher. He’s developed a tube about the size of a large sewing needle that uses a technology called nanofluidics. Inside the tube, a system of channels processes very small amounts of liquid taken from cancer cells, identifying and isolating the oncoproteins present.

Dean Felsher: What may one day happen is that we’d be able to put a needle in a lymph node and run it for a profile of different oncoproteins and if we found there were certain oncoproteins that were markedly elevated, we’d have a very high diagnostic suspicion that there was a cancer.

Felsher told EarthSky that the tool could also help develop cancer drugs.

Dean Felsher: Let’s say you wanted to develop a drug that targeted a particular oncoprotein. This machine will be useful for helping you know whether or not you’re succeeding, whether or not the drug is actually targeting that oncoprotein.

The tube developed by Dr. Felsher is about the size of a large sewing needle. It is still in the testing stage.

Thanks to the National Science Foundation.

Our thanks to Dean Felsher.
Dean Felsher is a medical doctor and professor at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

EarthSky