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European Union Funded Programmes

Principle Investigators:

Dr. Cara Martin/ Prof John O’Leary

Senior Scientist:

Dr. Helen Keegan

Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer in women worldwide and remains a major cause of morbidity and mortality. Human papillomaviruses (HPVs) are implicated in over 99% of cervical cancers. HPV contributes to neoplastic progression through the interaction of two of its oncogenes E6 and E7 which interfere with critical cell cycle regulatory processes. Nucleic assays such as multiplex PCR, nucleic acid sequence based amplification (NASBA), DNA sequencing and microarrays are time-consuming, labor intensive and complex investigations when performed isolation. Minaturisation of these assays into lab-on-a-chip diagnostic platforms presents huge potential for the integration of multiple molecular assays into easy-to-use, flexible, point of care diagnostic systems, with improved power to diagnose accurately and represents a major step forward in cervical cancer screening and diagnostics. Such platforms have the potential to be applied to other diagnostic systems including other cancers, biosafety platforms and food technology. The department has collaborated on the European funded projects:- Microactive and Autocast.

The "MicroActive" project is a specific targeted research project under the EU 6th IST Framework Programme. The project started in December 2005 and closed in December 2008.

During the MicroActive project a microfluidic device for molecular diagnostics intended for use in the doctors’ office was developed. A platform for nucleic acid extraction and Human papillomavirus (HPV) E6 and E7 transforming oncogene expression was developed. “Proof of principle” was established on cervical clinical specimens. Microfluidics and biotechnology formed the basis for the development of two disposable biochips, one for nucleic acid purification and the other for HPV amplification. The project was coordinated by SINTEF (Norway) with Institut fur Mikrotechnik Mainz (Germany), IMTEK (Germany), BioFluidix (Germany), NorChip (Norway) and Coombe Women and Infants University Hospital (Ireland) affiliated with University of Dublin, Trinity College, as project partners. Results from the project are now available through the project web-site http://www.sintef.no/microactive and through the publishable final activity report.

Key Publications:

Baier T, et.al., "Hands-free sample preparation platform for nucleic acid analysis", Lab Chip, 2009, DOI: 10.1039/b910421f

Keegan H, et.al, "Comparison of HPV detection technologies: Hybrid capture 2, PreTech HPV Proofer  and analysis of HPV viral load in HPV16, HPV18 and HPV33 E6/E7 mRNA positive specimens", Journal of Virological Methods (2009)

Injection molded COC microfluidic amplification chip developed as part of the MicroActive project. The chip consists of a sample inlet, a supply channel, a waste chamber, and eight parallel reaction channels, each consisting of a metering section and two reaction chambers separated by three capillary valves.

Figure 1. Injection molded COC microfluidic amplification chip developed as part of the MicroActive project. The chip consists of a sample inlet, a supply channel, a waste chamber, and eight parallel reaction channels, each consisting of a metering section and two reaction chambers separated by three capillary valves.

Prefilled sample preparation chip developed in the MicroActive project showing 1) sample inlet, 2) cell filter, 3) SPE chamber, 4) reagent storage, 4b) storage of DMSO/sorbitol, 5) turning valves, 6) waste outlets, 7) sample outlet, 8) pressure sensor. Fluids are dyed for demonstration reasons.

Figure 2 Prefilled sample preparation chip developed in the MicroActive project showing 1) sample inlet, 2) cell filter, 3) SPE chamber, 4) reagent storage, 4b) storage of DMSO/sorbitol, 5) turning valves, 6) waste outlets, 7) sample outlet, 8) pressure sensor. Fluids are dyed for demonstration reasons.

The “AutoCast” (Automated Cancer Screening based on Real-time PCR) project, is a collaborative EU 7th framework funded project under the “Health” work programme commencing in August 2008 for 3 years.

In this project, we will develop a novel low cost automated real time PCR/probe technology, in a microarray biochip format with corresponding automated detection instrumentation for use as a rapid “point of care” diagnostic device for cervical cancer screening in both a clinical and laboratory setting. A multiplex real-time amplification assay will be coupled to detection on an array platform for the detection of human papillomaviruses and human biomarker genes in a new combinatorial approach to cervical screening. The project is coordinated by GenoID (Hungary) with Fraunhofer Institut (Germany), Austrian Research Centers (Austria), Biofluidix (Germany), Jenoptik (Germany), IMTEK, (University of Freiburg, Germany) and University of Dublin, Trinity College affiliated with Coombe Women and Infants University Hospital (Dublin, Ireland). Firther information is available on this project at the following website: http://www.genoid.net/index.php/autocast/

The Department also has collaborations with other European partners in the areas of microfluidic devices and diagnostics for neonatal sepsis, ovarian cancer, prostate cancer and in novel cell sorting techniques.

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Last updated 21 September 2016 Paul Smyth (Email).