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Professor Jason Davis develops a new type of detection surface that can be used for liquid biopsy-based diagnostic assays.

To enable early detection of cancer, it is not only important to discover reliable biomarkers of early cancer but also to develop sensitive, specific and practical diagnostic tests that can be deployed in healthcare settings.

Jason Davis’ research (Department of Chemistry) aims to further improve molecular detection technologies that are based on the measurement of electrical impedance. In these types of sensors, a small voltage is applied to a surface-liquid interface and the resulting electrical current is measured. From the ratio of current to voltage, electrical impedance can be calculated. To detect specific molecules of interest in a liquid containing many different molecules such as blood serum, receptors that recognise the target molecule are fixed onto this surface. The specific receptor-target molecule interaction can be measured by a change in the electrical impedance. The advantages of using the types of electrical impedance devices developed by the Davis lab as the basis for a diagnostic assay are that this approach is rapid, extremely sensitive and cheap, and can be run on the patient sample with the need for additional reagents. 

In the Davis group’s latest research published in Analytical Chemistry, they investigate a new type of surface polymer support and present an additional new reagentless way of detecting biomarkers in blood.