SAPHELY Project Aims to Develop Nanophotonic Technology-Based Device for Early Diagnosis of Cancer

To develop a device based on nanophotonic technology that enables a quick and early diagnosis of different types of cancer –specifically breast, prostate, lung and colorectal– analysing only two or three drops of blood. This is the objective of SAPHELY, a European project funded by the EU's Horizon 2020 programme, led by the Valencia Nanophotonics Technology Center of the Universitat Politècnica de València. The SYM group of Centre for Molecular Recognition and Technological Development is also participating in the project as the second partner from the UPV.

SAPHELY Universitat Politècnica de València

SAPHELY was launched on 1 February and will continue until January 2018. Its partners met at the Universitat Politècnica de València to establish work strategies for the first year of the project.

Nanophotonics for sensing and microRNA biomarkers

The device proposed in SAPHELY enables a quick and ultra-sensitive identification of biomarkers based on microRNA, the deregulation of which has been linked to a large number of diseases. “The principal new feature of this unit lies in the combination of nanophotonic sensing technology and a new recognition system of those microRNA biomarkers that will enable the effect of that interaction to be amplified. This will provide an extremely high sensitivity that is not obtained with the current diagnosis systems”, highlights Jaime García, researcher at Valencia Nanophotonics Technology Center of the UPV and project coordinator.

The sensing technique could also be implemented more easily than others used currently, in which it is necessary to carry out complex processes of marking or sample preparation to obtain sensitivities that high. As the NTC indicates, this will lead to the possibility of obtaining very compact, light and low-cost devices; the initial cost of the reader device is estimated to be under €3,000.

Thus, SAPHELY would permit the implementation of mass screening programmes, in which the whole population at risk of a certain disease could analysed quickly and easily. “It would help diagnose the pathologies in question before any significant symptoms are presented, which would have a big impact on the quality of life of the citizens and would greatly reduce the costs met by the health systems”, indicates Jaime García.

Other applications

The researchers indicate that the SAPHELY device could also be applied to the diagnosis of a large number of diseases that have a deregulation of certain microRNA biomarkers. Currently, more than 400 diseases linked to these deregulations have been identified, including Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, diabetes, osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease, in addition to the different types of cancer.

And outside of the clinical sphere, they indicate that it could be used to detect pollutants in environmental resources or bacteria, pesticide, etc. in foods; the analysis of the effect of new medicinal products, the quick detection of chemical or biological threats, “and any other application that requires of the quick and ultra-sensitive detection of certain analytes”, concludes Jaime García.

In addition to the Universitat Politècnica de València, the project has also had collaboration from the Fundación Instituto Valenciano de Oncología-IVO, the University of East Anglia and Medical Engineering Technologies Ltd. (United Kingdom); Aalborg University (Denmark); Microfulidic ChipShop GmbH and Microtec Gesellschaft fur Mikrotechnologie MBH (Germany); APR Technologies AB (Sweden) and EV Group E. Thallner GmbH (Austria).


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