Researchers from the UK’s University of Bath have developed a new biochip device, which will enable the discovery new life-saving drugs more quickly and cost-effectively.

The PhosphoSense technology is being used to screen compounds for use in drugs and it has created a new way to detect the activity of enzymes known as kinases.

Kinases regulate multiple biological processes in normal healthy human cells that are required for survival, and will cause life-threatening diseases such as cancer, autoimmune disorders, Alzheimer’s and diabetes, when these become over-active or disregulated.

The new PhosphoSense biochip will help pharmaceutical firms to simultaneously measure a large number of compounds and select what can be developed into drugs to battle against diseases.

"This technology has the potential to change the drug discovery process as we know it and facilitate the development of new drugs for diseases such as cancer and dementia, as well as strokes."

It has been developed by a researcher team that includes Dr Pedro Estrela, Nikhil Bhalla, Dr Mirella Di Lorenzo and Dr Giordano Pula.

University of Bath Department of Pharmacy and Pharmacology lecturer Dr Giordano Pula said: "This technology has the potential to change the drug discovery process as we know it and facilitate the development of new drugs for diseases like cancer, stroke and dementia.

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"The simplicity is the strength of this technology. This discovery significantly simplifies the analysis of protein kinase activity and frees it from the use of radioisotopes or antibodies."

"The free-flow of information between departments at the University of Bath promoted this collaboration and the work leading to this discovery, which was a truly interdisciplinary endeavour."

The research team is currently planning to collaborate with industrial partners to develop the system to a prototype, which can be used by the pharmaceutical industry.

Image: University of Bath researchers have developed a new biochip device for life-saving drug discoveries. Photo: courtesy of University of Bath.