Science and Engineering

University of California, Berkeley

Sanjay Kumar, Niren Murthy
Berkeley, CA
$500,000
December 2013

The ability to measure protein levels in single cells has the potential to revolutionize biology and medicine.  Nowhere is this truer than in cancer, where diagnosis and treatment are increasingly guided by specific molecular markers.  Yet, our ability to clinically exploit single cell proteomics is limited by a lack of sufficiently sensitive protein detection technology that can be easily used by clinical diagnostic and research laboratories.  The goal of this project is to develop an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) platform that will allow researchers to routinely perform single-cell proteomic experiments.  The proposed platform is based on combining microfluidics with a new family of nanoparticle-based ELISA detection substrates, which will collectively increase ELISA sensitivity by 3-4 orders of magnitude and enable single cell proteomics to be conducted with traditional plate readers.  The vision is to create a pipeline in which clinicians can predict disease course and select therapy based on proteomic data from cells isolated from a patient’s tumor.  Given the compelling need for single cell proteomic analysis and the ubiquity of ELISA in research and clinical diagnosis, this work may generate significant impact throughout medicine and biology.

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