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Chemistry’s Guan Receives $360,000 NSF Award for Study of Nanopore-Based MMP/ADAM Profiling for Early Cancer Detection

Xiyun (Richard) Guan has received a three-year, $360,000 grant from the National Science Foundation for his project “Solid-state nanopore-based MMP/ADAM profiling for early cancer detection.” The award is to develop next-generation biomaterials to help detect and treat cancer.

Guan develops nanopore techniques for various applications in biotechnology at the single molecule level. Nanopores are pores or cavities of only a few nanometers in size. The NSF-funded research will make use of Guan’s innovations in nanopores to improve understanding of MMPs (matrix metalloproteinases) and ADAMS (a disintegrin and metalloproteinases), both enzymes known to be part of cancer invasion and metastasis. Scientists have become greatly interested in them as providing clues to cell health and potential targets for early detection and treatment of cancer. To date, however, MMP/ADAM assays have not been selective or sensitive enough.

Guan’s work will help address that problem. He will use his nanopores to do highly selective and sensitive measurement of the activity of MMPs/ADAMs. The proposed studies are expected to lead to a better understanding of molecular and ionic transport, as well as to develop a versatile tool for various applications, including biosensing, studying covalent and non-covalent bonding interactions, investigating biomolecular folding and unfolding, and exploring enzyme kinetics.

As part of his award, Guan will incorporate findings from this research into his classroom teaching and will recruit undergraduate and graduate students (especially Hispanic and African American minority groups) to participate in the research. He also will share information about nanopore sensing technology through symposia, collaborations with peers, and more.