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June 5, 2014

CSU prof develops microarray biochip

By Dan Levindofske

Professor Moo-Yeal Lee of Cleveland State University co-authored an article which was published in the esteemed journal Nature Communications in May.

The article, “High-throughput and combinatorial gene expression on a chip for metabolism-induced toxicology screening” discussed the applications of a new technology that allows for research of individual metabolism toxicity.

“This is big for my career,” said Lee. “This idea was conceived five years ago.”Photo courtesy of Cleveland State University

In collaboration with Samsung, Lee developed a new microarray biochip that can simulate drug metabolism in human livers and predict possible dangerous reactions. This is done through the use of an adenovirus, which infects the liver cells.

The adenovirus is essentially used as a vessel to transport the desired individual metabolism into the human liver cells.

The human liver cells are infected with the adenovirus using the microarray biochips, which were developed by Lee.

“I spent nine years in the industry before coming to CSU and I developed these technologies,” said Lee.

The new biochips are plastic, as opposed to the old glass slide technology that was used for this research. The complementary micropillar and microwell structures allow for the chips to interlock so that the adenovirus may infect the human liver cells.

“Our end goal is to find out how it works in the human body,” said Lee.

It is important to note that this research only tests extreme cases to screen for potential adverse side effects, with high predictability being the key.

“We want to know the toxicity before people take this drug, and we also want to minimize the use of human liver cells,” said Lee.

Obtaining human liver cells is very expensive and are typically only taken from cadavers.
This new technology allows the research to be done effectively and efficiently, while saving money.

This is still a relatively new area of research, started 10 years ago and commercialized only two years ago.

“My role is to find more applications for this technology,” Lee said.

The current process uses invitro testing to study the metabolism toxicity of extreme cases. The biochips are run through a microarray spotter and the results are scanned using a chip scanner.

The benefits using this technology for the screening process are that it is cost effective, time saving and can manipulate individual drug metabolisms.

As for being published by Nature Communications, Lee is honored but remains humble.

“It is very important for me to be recognized as an expert in this field,” said Lee. “This is all because of everybody’s efforts.”