Modern medicine is moving towards personalized treatment schedules, requiring analytical tools to monitor the response of patients during treatment. Chemotherapy patients are currently administered cocktails of drugs according to a schedule pre-determined by statistical responses of multiple previous patients. This protocol is not optimal. One key chemotherapy agent, methotrexate, has a narrow therapeutic window: low concentrations are ineffective in treating cancer, while high concentrations are unacceptably toxic to the patient. The Masson and Pelletier groups are developing biosensors in which well-characterized Au nanoparticles are patterned on a glass substrate to serve as a colorimetric test strip for detecting methotrexate within minutes by surface plasmon resonance (SPR). The methotrexate-sensing scheme has been validated with a prototype SPR instrument and is now in clinical trials with patients undergoing chemotherapy.
The work is supported by Institut Mérieux and BioMérieux, and the development of related sensors for rapid environmental analyses is being carried out in collaboration with Defense Research and Development Canada. A prototype instrument for the analysis of methotrexate has been built, tested, and shown to be faster, cheaper, and easier to use than current alternatives. Clinical studies of the instrumentation are underway.
Prof. Jean-François Masson and Prof. Joëlle Pelletier (Université de Montréal)