Health, Science & Technology

Paper-based device for Colorimetric Detection of Ovarian Cancer Biomarker miRNA-665

Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zürich (ETH)
Advancing Ovarian Cancer Biomarker Detection
Jessica Ooi Sui Ying, a hall tutor at University of Nottingham Malaysia, is currently developing an assay to detect the presence of an ovarian cancer biomarker called miRNA-665 in human serum. MicroRNAs (miRNA) are short ribonucleic acids (RNA) which have emerged as potential cancer biomarkers. 
However, these are usually present in small amounts in the bloodstream and must first be amplified before they can be detected. This may be achieved using microarrays or reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). Unfortunately, these standard methods are time-consuming, laborious and require special equipment and expertise. Unlike these methods, Jessica’s proposed assay aims to eliminate the need for complicated protocols, expensive equipment and highly skilled personnel. 
How loss led to a mission
Losing a close friend due to ovarian cancer was what sparked Jessica’s mission. Her research, currently funded by the MAKNA Cancer Research Award 2020, focuses on three key objectives; establishing the efficacy of combining DNA probes and gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) in a tube-based assay, validating the assay using serum samples, and comparing the sensitivity of the assay to a standard method, RT-PCR. 
Building on these achievements, Jessica envisions transferring the established mechanism to a paper-based analytical device (PAD) capable of generating quantifiable color signals. This transition is expected to enhance the assay's potential as a biosensor in diverse settings, catering to both rural and urban environments. To acquire the necessary skills for this advancement, Jessica plans to undertake an attachment with a renowned research group abroad, specialising in the development of paper-based diagnostic technologies.
Breakthroughs in the mountains
Cast against the amazing Swiss Alps as a backdrop, Jessica’s three-month attachment at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zürich (ETH) saw her gaining valuable insights with so many bright minds. 
Jessica was able to work with and learn from experts in the field like Professor Andrew DeMello, Dr. Daniel Richards, Andres Javier Bello Hernandez, Thomas Moragues, Andres Rocha Tapia, Leonard Bezinge and Dr. Emmanuel Delamarche.
Attending point-of-care technology symposiums in Zurich broadened her insights, offering a glimpse into commercialised technologies and the future of testing. Engagements with the pharmaceutical industry provided a fresh perspective, inspiring her for future research, while access to Benchling, an electronic lab book platform, transformed her approach to documentation, facilitating seamless knowledge sharing and organisation of experiments.
Empowerment through STEM
Beyond her research, Jessica advocates a different educational approach that places high importance on problem-solving and creativity for women in STEM. This advocacy came after her interaction with many outstanding female scientists abroad citing Switzerland, the Netherlands and Germany as countries of example. She believes women should be empowered to say no to remain true to their main vision and mission of success. 

The information in this award recipient's profile is accurate to the best of our knowledge as of the time the award was presented. Any subsequent changes, updates, or developments in the individual's life or achievements may not be reflected in this profile.

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