Dr Ashwin Seshia

Dr Ashwin Seshia

+44 (0) 1223 332755


There is a critical need to develop an instrumentation platform for the rapid characterization and screening of a specific protein, or a set of target proteins, using minimal amounts of sample. Most current approaches rely on labelling samples with a fluorescent or radioactive tag which is expensive and time consuming, often involving multiple reagents and washing steps. The recent development of micromechanical cantilever biosensors have the potential to allow detection of single molecules of protein. This is very powerful technology with numerous biomedical applications in the area of diagnostics called Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS) which allows for the integration of mechanical elements, sensors, actuators, and electronics on a common silicon substrate through microfabrication technology. We are working in conjunction with the Biochemistry and Chemistry departments, as well as the IRC for Nanotechnology to develop the technology and its applications in the Life Sciences.

Biosensors built as free-standing micromechanical structures can be used to detect the presence of particular protein molecules in blood samples, for instance. This is done by coating the surfaces of these structures with biomolecules that bind in a very specific way to the proteins to be detected. The interactions between proteins in the sample and the 'functionalised' micromechanical structure modulate certain electro-mechanical properties of these structures that can be measured very precisely. By using an array of sensors, we can detect a range of proteins, which will make up the 'fingerprint' of a particular disease or genetic condition such as propensity towards schizophrenia. One application for this is detecting the 'fingerprint' of proteins that indicate a susceptibility for the development of schizophrenia. This is work being carried out with Professor Bill Fitzgerald.

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