Development of innovative solutions for analyzing biological samples in pharmaceutical research and development: Novel bioanalytical chemistry merges digital microfluidics and mass spectrometry

Diagnostic tests that currently direct patient therapy in cancer and other diseases are more typically performed at the genetic level, despite the fact that the beneficial response to drugs and the development of resistance are rooted in the proteins that comprise the cell’s signaling pathways. We argue that this is a major gap, as proteomics can be used to understand how cells respond to inhibitors, thereby identifying patients who are responding positively at the molecular level, as well as patients who are developing resistance through the reorganization of the cell’s signaling network. The science of quantitative proteomics is becoming increasingly more robust, sensitive, and reproducible., however translating these types of assays into non-specialist environments has remained problematic largely for technical reasons involving sample preparation and method quality control. Here, we propose to address these issues by creating an Automated Digital Microfluidic Sample Processing System for Proteomics (DMF device) that offers complete control and standardization over all processing tasks from crude biological mixtures through to a sample compatible for quantitative mass spectrometry (MS) analyses.

Faculty Supervisor:

Dr. Aaron Wheeler


Chang Liu






Medical devices


University of Toronto



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