FISH on a chip offers quicker, less costly cancer diagnosis

June 19, 2007

For the first time an important diagnostic test for cancer has been miniaturized and automated onto a microfluidic chip by a team of University of Alberta researchers in Edmonton, Canada.

This new technology opens up the possibility of better, faster cancer treatment and greater accessibility to the test, thanks to quicker and more cost-efficient diagnosis.

Chris Backhouse, professor of electrical engineering and cancer scientist Dr. Linda Pilarski have developed a microfluidic chip the size of a microscope slide that can perform fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH) on a handheld diagnostic device.

FISH is an important and complex test that detects mutations in chromosomes for a number of different types of cancer. The test involves attaching coloured dyes to chromosomes as a way to visualize and count them as well as to detect cancer-promoting breaks and rejoinings of chromosomes. These abnormalities provide clinically valuable information about disease outcomes and response to therapy. This new system will allow FISH to be rapidly performed for a fraction of the cost of current analysis methods. Compared to conventional methods for FISH, which can take days to perform, the on-chip FISH test can be done in less than a day with a ten-fold higher rate of processing and a reduction in costs from hundreds to tens of dollars.

Because of the complexity and expense of current technology, FISH is infrequently used in clinical situations. FISH on a chip will allow widespread use of the tests because of its higher speed and lower costs. The rapid detection of chromosomal mutations will significantly increase a physician’s ability to tailor treatment strategies to target individual cancers.

“The ability to design ‘personalized’ therapies means that patients will be able to receive more effective treatments sooner and avoid exposure to side effects from treatments that will not help them,” Pilarski said.

“This is representative of how miniaturization can make our health care more accessible while creating new economic opportunities here in Alberta,” Backhouse added.

"The work of Dr. Pilarski and her associates will have great impact, and quite quickly - on the diagnosis of patients with a broad spectrum of diseases," said Dr. Roderick McInnes, Scientific Director of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research Institute of Genetics. “Their FISH and chip technology should allow rapid and inexpensive diagnosis of important genetic changes that can underlie cancer and many developmental and neurological disorders. The type of product that these scientists have produced is a major example of the kind of innovation that Canada needs, innovation that grew out of the government's support of fundamental research in medicine and engineering."

Source: University of Alberta

Explore further: Britons sizzle over chips and toast cancer warnings

Related Stories

Britons sizzle over chips and toast cancer warnings

January 23, 2017
A government health warning over the potential dangers of toast, roast potatoes and chips—all traditional staples of the British diet—had the country's tabloids hitting out Monday.

Researchers identify potential treatment target for metastatic pancreatic cancer using CTC chip technology

July 30, 2012
(Medical Xpress) -- Researchers with the Stand Up To Cancer CTC Chip Dream Team have identified a potential treatment target in metastatic pancreatic cancer through a detailed analysis of genes expressed in circulating tumor ...

Nine-year-old brain tumour patient has testicular tissue frozen

December 23, 2015
NHS and Oxford University medics have carried out an operation on a nine-year-old boy with a brain tumour to preserve some of his testicular tissue. Nathan Crawford has become the first boy in the UK to have the operation, ...

Study finds high exposure to food-borne toxins

November 13, 2012
In a sobering study published in the journal Environmental Health, researchers at UC Davis and UCLA measured food-borne toxin exposure in children and adults by pinpointing foods with high levels of toxic compounds and determining ...

Is it possible to use food as medicine for a specific disease?

March 22, 2016
"What if you could cure all your health problems and lose 10 pounds in just 7 days? That's an amazing claim, hard to believe for sure, but I have seen this miracle so many times in my practice that even I am starting to believe ...

Recognizing blood poisoning quickly

December 2, 2011
(Medical Xpress) -- Is the patient suffering from blood poisoning? To answer this question, the doctor draws a blood sample and sends it to a central laboratory for testing. This takes up valuable time, which could cost the ...

Recommended for you

Researchers discover specific tumor environment that triggers cells to metastasize

November 21, 2017
A team of bioengineers and bioinformaticians at the University of California San Diego have discovered how the environment surrounding a tumor can trigger metastatic behavior in cancer cells. Specifically, when tumor cells ...

New study points the way to therapy for rare cancer that targets the young

November 21, 2017
After years of rigorous research, a team of scientists has identified the genetic engine that drives a rare form of liver cancer. The findings offer prime targets for drugs to treat the usually lethal disease, fibrolamellar ...

Clinical trial suggests new cell therapy for relapsed leukemia patients

November 20, 2017
A significant proportion of children and young adults with treatment-resistant B-cell leukemia who participated in a small study achieved remission with the help of a new form of gene therapy, according to researchers at ...

Cell-weighing method could help doctors choose cancer drugs

November 20, 2017
Doctors have many drugs available to treat multiple myeloma, a type of blood cancer. However, there is no way to predict, by genetic markers or other means, how a patient will respond to a particular drug. This can lead to ...

Researchers discover a new target for 'triple-negative' breast cancer

November 20, 2017
So-called "triple-negative" breast cancer is a particularly aggressive and difficult-to-treat form. It accounts for only about 10 percent of breast cancer cases, but is responsible for about 25 percent of breast cancer fatalities.

Study reveals new mechanism used by cancer cells to disarm attacking immune cells

November 20, 2017
A new study by researchers at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center - James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC - James) identifies a substance released by pancreatic cancer cells that protects ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.