Mexican engineer Victor Manuel Serdio Villarreal currently works in Tokyo, Japan, where he develops electrical devices for diagnosis of proteins like ErbB2, which is associated with breast cancer and if detected on time can help for prescribing early treatment to prevent the progression of damage.
Certain proteins associated with cancer are measured on nanoscale (nano corresponds to a billionth of a meter); therefore, they are not be easily detected by conventional methods. This dilemma attracted the interest of Serdio Villarreal, who achieved an electronic interpretation of the problem, providing a solution that has had international recognition.
“Proteins in the blood may have a size of 5, 10 or 15 nanometers, and the problem to detect them is that there are no tools to locate them. I considered the possibility of applying the nanostructures we use to manufacture the next generation of transistors, such as sensors on this scale. Having an accuracy of up to two or three nanometers, we can interact with nano particles, organic molecules, nanotubes, and thus also with proteins inside our body,” Serdio Villarreal explains.
Thus, the Mexican scientist ventured to proteomics, i.e. the large-scale study of proteins, particularly their structure and function. As he pointed out, we study them considering that proteins are the basic units of the molecules of our body.
The new diagnostic technology can identify cancer biomarkers in a sample as small as a drop of blood, showing much faster and accurate diagnosis. The test will also serve to study the evolution of medical treatment and the development of new drugs.
“We intend to offer these preventive diagnostic devices at accessible prices to the public, from 30 to 50 dollars. Our idea is that we can cure cancer through early detection, as current treatments have high success rates, as long as they are detected early.”
The device’s mechanism of action employs gold electrodes with RNA strands to interconnect the proteins with cancer biomarkers to the electrical circuit. The detection is obtained by observing the change in the electrical properties between electrodes.
“Whoever is devoted to the diagnosis from a medical training has a partial vision, which is limited to techniques similar or related to current ones. Instead, we make diagnosis based on electronics. This is, interpreting these proteins as electronic devices, which will have particular electrical characteristics (resistance and capacitance). It seems that this technique has not been considered, because no one has the ability to manufacture nanostructure small enough to interact with these proteins, as we have. And I think it’s a different point of view: this is an electronic vision of proteins,” he said.
Serdio Villarreal, who holds a degree in physical engineering by the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education (ITESM), studied a PhD in physics electronics at the Tokyo Institute of Technology. Then, he and a partner founded the company called Mursla Nanosensors, which develops nanotechnology with manufacturing techniques of the semiconductor industry applied to biotechnology.
For this development, Serdio Villarreal was recognized by MIT Tech Review as one of the innovators under 35 in Mexico in 2015.
Source: Agencia ID