• Press Releases

  • 10/08/2013

    Nokia Sensing X Challenge Finalists

    The programmable bio-nano-chip system developed in the McDevitt laboratory was featured at the Nokia Sensing X Challenged as part of the Health 2.0 meeting in Santa Clara, CA on September 28th through October 2nd, 2013. For more information, please see the following URLs: 



    The p-BNC team was represented from left to right by: Michael McRae, Glennon Simmons, Ahmed Haque, and John T. McDevitt (team leader).

    More information about the team is found in the attached PDF file: PBNC Nokia Handout


    Rice researchers, collaborators awarded Dunn grants

    Foundation donates seed money for initiatives at Rice's BioScience Research Collaborative

    Three projects and a scientific meeting have been funded in a new round of John S. Dunn Foundation seed grants, which go to scientists based at Rice University's BioScience Research Collaborative (BRC) and their collaborators at other institutions.

    The awards were given by the foundation to support projects that foster interdisciplinary and inter-institutional research at the BRC. The Gulf Coast Consortia (GCC) administers the program.

    The new project awards, which provide about $100,000 each, will support research into the treatment of gastrointestinal disease, the development of a diagnostic device for epilepsy patients and the creation of split protein biocatalysts for the treatment of disease. These projects were chosen from among 21 proposals.

    Help for epilepsy sufferers

    Giridhar Kalamangalam and John McDevitt and their teams are developing a version of the McDevitt Lab's Bio-Nano-Chip to test for levels of antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) in people with epilepsy. The measurement of AED concentrations in the body helps physicians make decisions about drug dosing, but current methods depend on obtaining blood samples and sending them for remote laboratory processing. The new test will read drug and metabolite levels from saliva, rather than blood, and be far quicker and more convenient.

    Kalamangalam is an assistant professor of neurology at the University of Texas Medical School at Houston. McDevitt is the Brown-Wiess Professor of Bioengineering and Chemistry at Rice.

    The Dunn Foundation is a longtime supporter of collaborative research through the GCC, which builds interdisciplinary teams and training programs in the biological sciences that involve the computational, chemical, mathematical and physical sciences.

    Related links:
    BioScience Research Collaborative: http://brc.rice.edu/home/
    John S. Dunn Foundation: http://research.rice.edu/dunnFoundation.cfm
    Gulf Coast Consortia: http://www.gulfcoastconsortia.org/home.aspx


    A Spitting Image of Health

    How saliva can help doctors diagnose disease

    Rinse and spit.

    Someday soon, doctors may join dentists in issuing these simple instructions. And before leaving the office, you might know whether you’re at risk for oral cancer. Additional tests on that same ptui may reveal whether you show signs of certain other cancers or diseases such as diabetes and Alzheimer’s.

    McDevitt and his colleagues are already using a device called a bioto­meter to analyze spit samples to find out whether patients with chest pain are suffering a heart attack. A drop of saliva obtained from a gum swab goes onto the appropriate test card and is placed in the analyzer. If the saliva sample contains troponin T, a protein characteristic of a heart attack (it is released into the blood when heart cells die), the detection beads will emit a fluorescent color. The analyzer spots that color glow in the beads and indicates that the patient is indeed experiencing a heart attack.


    Building the Biomarker Highway: Advanced Diagnostics Based on Programmable Bio-Nano-Chip Sensors

    Keynote delivered by John McDevitt at Lab-on-a-Chip World Congress

    John McDevitt, the Brown-Wiess Professor of Chemistry & Bioengineering at Rice University, will deliver a keynote presentation on Building the Biomarker Highway: Advanced Diagnostics Based on Programmable Bio-Nano-Chip Sensors at the Lab-on-a-Chip World Congress, which will be held at the South San Francisco Conference Center, September 29-30, 2011.

    Dr. McDevitt’s programmable bio-nano-chip sensors are now in development with the goal to make healthcare more affordable and accessible globally.

    His keynote will be on Friday 30th during the session on Point-of-Care Diagnostics. more...


    A new bio-nanochip sensor aids oral cancer detection

    A diagnostic cytology-on-a-chip technique rapidly detects premalignant and malignant cells with high sensitivity and specificity. (pdf)


    amfAR (The Foundation for AIDS Research)

    amfAR Capitol Hill Briefing Explores New HIV Prevention Technologies, Underscores Importance of Adequate Funding and Targeting High-Risk Groups

    Rice University Professor John McDevitt was quoted about the importance of point-of-care
    diagnostics for monitoring HIV infection in the developing world. At the Capitol Hill briefing, more than a dozen leading government, research, policy, and medical experts highlighted the need to scale up HIV prevention efforts, both domestically and globally, as an effective way to combat the worldwide AIDS epidemic. The event was sponsored by amfAR.


    Where we learn how to learn

    Honored Alumni Talk About the Core Lessons of a Cal Poly Education

    Professor John McDevitt and five other alumni from Cal Poly were honored for using their university experiences to launch successful careers. McDevitt, who earned a B.S. in Chemistry in 1982 from Cal Poly's College of Science and Mathematics, was quoted saying, "I became hooked on the learn-by-doing experience through my first two research projects, and there has been no looking back. At Cal Poly I not only learned basic science and engineering skills, I also secured my keen interest in research activities and applications that have a societal importance. For the past two decades I have served as an educator at major universities, mentoring young graduate and undergraduate students with the hope of passing along a similar interest in education and passion for problem solving for issues of societal importance – stimulated by the same learn-by-doing methods.” more...


    What the future holds

    Houston Business Journal

    Rice University Professor John McDevitt began development 15 years ago on a small chip designed to diagnose medical conditions using saliva or bodily fluids: ‘I like to think of it as the iPhone of medicine, with the same potential to be a game changer. And it’s just around the corner.’ Read more: What the future holds | Houston Business Journal  



    Programmable Bio-Nano-Chips: First Viable Medical Lab on a Chip?


    John McDevitt, the Brown-Wiess Professor in Bioengineering and Chemistry, has developed a Programmable Bio-Nano-Chip as an alternative to the costly, time consuming, and sometimes painful procedures for diagnosis. more...



    ‘Dirt cheap’ seaweed chips spot disease


    RICE (US) — Microsponges derived from seaweed are a key component of a tiny programmable chip designed to sniff out diseases such as HIV and cancer.


    Microsponges from seaweed may save lives

    Rice University scientists refine process at heart of diagostic Bio-Nano-Chip Rice News Press Release and Video

    Microsponges derived from seaweed may help diagnose heart disease, cancers, HIV and other diseases quickly and at far lower cost than current clinical methods. The microsponges are an essential component of Rice University's Programmable Bio-Nano-Chip (PBNC) and the focus of a new paper in the journal Small.



    Location of Biomarkers and and Reagents within Agarose Beads of a Programmable Nano-bio-chip

    Microsponges from seaweed may save lives Microsponges derived from seaweed may help diagnose heart disease, cancers, HIV and other diseases quickly and at far lower cost than current clinical methods. The microsponges are an essential component of Rice University's Programmable Bio-Nano-Chip and the focus of a new paper in the journal Small.


    Bio-Nano-Chip in human trials to spot cardiac disease, cancer, drug abuse

    Next Big Future

    New microchip technology from Rice University is expected to advance the art of diagnosis. Cardiac disease is the focus of one of six ongoing major clinical trials of Rice's programmable bio-nano-chips (PBNCs).


    Rice chips in for Heart Health Month

    Bio-Nano-Chip technology in human trials to spot cardiac disease, cancer, drug abuse



    Research grant could cut NHS costs

    Chartered Managemet Institute (CMI)

    Researchers in England are carrying out trials of a new test for oral cancer which uses the latest in microchip technology to provide results within minutes. John McDevitt, the Brown-Wiess Professor in Bioengineering and Chemistry, is mentioned as leading the trial. more...  


    New ‘dentist’ test to detect oral cancer will save lives

    New $2million research project

    6 August, 2010 - The following is a collection of international news bulletins about a lab-on-a-chip study being conducted by researchers at the University of Sheffield and Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. The two-year clinical trial seeks to perfect the bio-nano-chip technology developed by the McDevitt lab at Rice University and to make it as sensitive as possible...more

    For more news about the the lab's international press on oral cancer visit McDevitt Lab Saliva Research News.


    Rice wins $3.7 million for cancer research

    McDevitt lab developing innovative cancer diagnostics Rice News (Press Release)

    The Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) has granted $3.7 million to Rice University researchers to fund an innovative cancer diagnostics program. The funds will help the BioScience Research Collaborative lab overseen by John McDevitt, Rice's Brown-Wiess Professor in Bioengineering and Chemistry, in its mission to make the Texas Medical Center (TMC) the hub for diagnostics research into cancer and other diseases. The work is made possible by McDevitt's development of a cost-effective Bio-Nano-Chip that can provide patients with early warning of the onset of disease, cutting the time and cost of treatment. McDevitt is principal investigator of a multi-investigator project that totals $6 million for cancer research, of which Rice's portion is $3.7 million. The remainder of the grant will be subcontracted to investigators at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Baylor College of Medicine and the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio. (pdf)



    KHOU-TV's 'Great Day Houston'

    Medical Breakthroughs

    Rice's John McDevitt and Chief of Cardiology Biykem Bozkurt at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center are interviewed on the medical benefits of the bio-nano-chip. video link...



    Diagnosing heart attacks may be a lick and a click away

    Rice's bio-nano-chip begins human trials

    A diagnostic tool developed by Rice University scientists to detect heart attacks using a person's saliva is being tested at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center (MEDVAMC) in collaboration with Baylor College of Medicine (BCM) in Houston.

    John T. McDevitt, professor of chemistry and bioengineering at Rice, and his team of researchers at Rice's BioScience Research Collaborative have developed a microchip sensor, the bio-nano-chip, that processes saliva and yields on-the-spot results. McDevitt intends to establish Houston as the hub of a biomarker highway where bio-nano-chips will be configured to diagnose a variety of diseases.


    Chip gives early check for oral cancer


    A test that uses a new diagnostic Bio-Nano-Chip is as effective and far more expedient in detecting oral cancer than traditional invasive lab procedures. more...


    Semiconductor Swab Test Can Detect Oral Cancer in Only 15 Minutes

    Popular Science

    Every year, 300,000 people are diagnosed with oral cancer, which has an average survival rate of only 60 percent over five years. The rate of survival rises to 90 percent when the cancer is diagnosed early, but the process of detection can take several days, and is painful for the patient. bio-nano-chip technology created by researchers at Rice University may change that. The team at the university's BioScience Research Collaborative is working to develop a chip that can detect malignant lesions in 15 minutes. The new procedure would allow dentists to simply brush a suspicious lesion with a device that resembles a toothbrush. At the moment, those afflicted with oral cancer need to undergo invasive biopsies every six months. According to preliminary studies published in the Cancer Prevention Research journal, tests using the chip were found to be 93 percent accurate in differentiating between cancerous and non-cancerous lesions. The chip is designed to identify abnormal lesions that could potentially turn precancerous as well. more...


    Chip checks for oral cancer

    Rice's bio-nano-chip effective in pilot study to detect premalignancies

    The gentle touch of a lesion on the tongue or cheek with a brush can help detect oral cancer with success rates comparable to more invasive techniques, according to preliminary studies by researchers at Rice University, the University of Texas Health Science Centers at Houston and San Antonio and the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. The test that uses Rice's diagnostic bio-nano-chip was found to be 97 percent "sensitive" and 93 percent specific in detecting which patients had malignant or premalignant lesions, results that compared well with traditional tests. (pdf)


    Bio-Nano-Chip Sensor Platform for Examination of Oral Exfoliative Cytology

    Cancer Prevention Research

    Oral cancer is a deadly and disfiguring disease that could greatly benefit from new diagnostic approaches enabling early detection. In this pilot study, John McDevitt and a team of collaborators describe a Bio-Nano-Chip (BNC) sensor technique for analysis of oral cancer biomarkers in exfoliative cytology specimens, targeting both biochemical and morphologic changes associated with early oral tumorigenesis. more...



    Rice professor talks bio-nano-chip in podcast

    Rice News

    John McDevitt, Rice's Brown-Wiess Professor in Bioengineering and Chemistry and a pioneer in the creation of microfluidic devices for biomedical testing, is featured in the monthly podcast by Analytical Chemistry, a journal published by the American Chemical Society. McDevitt discusses his group's work at Rice's BioScience Research Collaborative to develop programmable bio-nano-chip sensors, inexpensive devices for the effective, rapid diagnosis of cancer, HIV and heart disease.

    A new paper by McDevitt and his co-authors details the team's efforts to bring such devices to the point of care – ambulances, patients' homes and other remote locations – where a quick diagnosis may save a life. The paper is featured on the cover of the March issue of Analytical Chemistry. Co-authors are Rice senior scientists Pierre Floriano and Nicolaos Christodoulides; Jesse Jokerst, a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University and former graduate student of McDevitt's at The University of Texas at Austin. The free podcast is available at the Analytical Chemistry Web site.


    Programmable Bio-Nano-Chip Sensors: Analytical Meets Clinical

    ACS Publications: Analytical Chemistry

    Researchers in the McDevitt laboratory at Rice University describe many recent advances in the bio-nano-chip analysis methodology with implications for a number of high-morbidity diseases including HIV, cancer, and heart disease. (pdf


    Rice wins NIH funding for oral-cancer test

    Grand Opportunity grant funds rapid saliva test using lab-on-a-chip

    The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded researchers in Rice University's new BioScience Research Collaborative (BRC) a $2 million Grand Opportunity (GO) grant to develop a fast, inexpensive test for oral cancer that a dentist could perform simply by using a brush to collect a small sample of cells from a patient's mouth.

    "We want to provide an accurate diagnosis for oral cancer in less than 30 minutes using a minimally invasive test that requires no scalpels or off-site lab tests," said principal investigator John McDevitt, Rice's Brown-Wiess Professor in Bioengineering and Chemistry. "The payoff for this could be tremendous because oral cancers today are typically diagnosed much too late in their development." (pdf


    Dunn Foundation awards first grants under $3M collaborative research program

    Rice News

    Rice University's John McDevitt, Baylor College of Medicine's Christie Ballantyne, and David Gorenstein from the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, received a Dunn Foundation grant for their investigations into "Early Disease Detection: Biomarker Discovery to Clinical Application." The team was one of four groups to receive funding for collaborative research in an emerging area. (pdf)


    Health care: Helping Africa can pay US dividends

    Rice bioengineer finds domestic payoff in designing devices for Africa

    Rice bioengineer John McDevitt is combining the latest technology from microcomputing, nanotechnology and biotechnology to shrink all the functions of a state-of-the-art clinical laboratory onto a microchip the size of a postage stamp. Working with researchers from Rice University, clinicians in Houston's Texas Medical Center, and the Austin-based startup company LabNow, McDevitt is putting the finishing touches on a toaster-sized machine that's designed to diagnose virtually any disease or medical condition for a fraction of the cost of modern U.S. clinical assays. The machine already works for HIV monitoring and heart-attack screens and will soon be used for various kinds of cancer. (pdf)


    Moving in, moving up

    Rice eases move for couple -- and lab -- to BioScience Research Collaborative (BRC)

    John McDevitt, the Brown-Wiess Professor of Chemistry and Bioengineering, and his wife Anna Grassini, a former lawyer and real estate company owner who is now a life coach, were drawn to Rice University by the possibilities for research offered by the new BioScience Research Collaborative (BRC) and by the city of Houston itself. McDevitt was the first researcher to move into the BRC in July 2009. (pdf)


    Texas-sized challenge

    NATURE|Vol 459

    “…For McDevitt, the BioScience Research Collaborative is a dream situation. He is joining the facility after spending 20 years at the University of Texas at Austin, where he has been refining his special brand of miniaturized 'lab on a chip'…” more


    Renowned UT microelectronics innovator joins Rice

    John McDevitt to leverage Rice’s global health focus

    The inventor of the “integrated bio-nano-chip” technology, John T. McDevitt, will become the Brown-Wiess Professor of Chemistry and Bioengineering at Rice University in July 2009. He will be joined by his research group and senior scientists, Dr. Nick Christodoulides and Dr. Pierre Floriano. (pdf)


    Spitting Images - Saliva Can Help Diagnose Heart Attack, Study Shows

    Jumpintotomorrow.com Technology of the Day Award

    Early diagnosis of a heart attack may now be possible using only a few drops of saliva and a new bio-nano-chip, a multi-institutional team led by researchers at The University of Texas at Austin reported at a recent meeting of the American Association of Dental Research. (pdf)


    Heart Attack Saliva Test

    National Academy of Engineering News & Events


    Heart attacks can be difficult to diagnose. But a new test – using just a small saliva sample – may provide a quick “yes-no” answer.

    Randy Atkins: If you think you're having a heart attack, the first test is an EKG. But John McDevitt, of the University of Texas, says it misses up to half the cases.

    John McDevitt: If you're not diagnosed, then you're not treated aggressively in that first step.

    Randy Atkins: Certain proteins produced by your body in response to a heart attack are another sign, but McDevitt says blood tests can take too long. So he's engineered system that uses a little spit.

    John McDevitt: The saliva-based test can look at these protein biomarkers in less than fifteen minutes.

    Randy Atkins: Your saliva drops into a tiny well on a card that slides into a toaster-size analyzer. It then washes across a series of micro-beads that capture four specific proteins and color them with fluorescent dyes read by a video chip.

    John McDevitt: The combination of these four creates a signature that tells us healthy or it tells us diseased.

    Randy Atkins: With the National Academy of Engineering, Randy Atkins, 103.5 FM, WTOP Radio.

    The devices will be tested in ambulances this summer, and could be widely available in two to five years.


    A Faster Way to Detect Heart Attacks:

    A diagnostic chip tests saliva to determine if someone is having a heart attack.

    A newly developed saliva-based test could give physicians and emergency-care technicians a quicker and easier way to diagnose heart attacks. The nano-biochip test, developed at the University of Texas at Austin and supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), measures proteins, or biomarkers, in the saliva that researchers found corresponded with heart attacks. more... (pdf)


    Saliva test may speed heart attack diagnosis

    Yahoo! News

    NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - A simple saliva test may one day be used in ambulances, restaurants, neighborhood drug stores, or other places in the community to quickly tell if a person is having a heart attack.

    "Proteins found in the saliva have the ability to rapidly classify potential heart attacks," Dr. John T. McDevitt, a biochemist at the University of Texas at Austin, told Reuters Health.  (pdf)


    What's in your spit?

    Signs of a heart attack, researchers say What's next? Scientists expect saliva to help detect and prevent cancers, too

    The next time you spit, consider this: Your saliva might one day be used to diagnose or prevent a heart attack.

    If research by scientists and dentists in Texas and Kentucky bears out, heart attack patients in several years could be diagnosed in an ambulance by analyzing a few drops of saliva, saving precious time at the hospital, researchers said. (pdf)


    Next Generation Cardiac Diagnostics Using Saliva-Based Bio-Nano-Chip Sensors


    It's the middle of the night when you suddenly feel pain in your chest. You try to ignore it at first, but your chest pain has you scared and worried. Could you be having a heart attack? Should you wake up your tired spouse? Should you go to the emergency room? Or is this pain simply derived from another false alarm. Unfortunately, to many Americans, the decision to seek rapid treatment in this situation is not clear-cut. Many heart attack victims, especially women, experience nonspecific symptoms and many heart attack victims secure medical help too late after permanent damage to the cardiac tissue has occurred. New saliva-based bio-nano-chip tests presented this week by a multi-University team promise to dramatically improve the accuracy and speed of cardiac diagnosis, at a fraction of the cost of am emergency room visit. These new tests, which could analyze a patient's saliva on board an ambulance or at a neighborhood drugstore, are nothing to “spit at”. (pdf)


    Integrated Bio-Nano-Chip Sensor Systems: From Bio-terrorism to Humanitarian Applications

    HSEMB Symposium on Micro and Nanotechnologies

    Homeland defense, in vitro diagnostics industries and humanitarian sectors share the goal of developing new test systems that can influence in a positive manner important global health issues. All these areas have limited resources and all face significant technical challenges that serve as impediments to improvement of the infrastructure for global health and security. Indeed, the marriage of micro-fabrication and in vitro diagnostic devices serves as a combination that may play a key role in developing the next generation diagnostic devices that can be affordable and accessible for all humanity. Accordingly, new nano-materials and nano-device concepts are combined in this program so as to develop a suite of customized bio-nano-chip that can operate at the point-of-need with reduced cost. While these lab-on-a-chip systems exhibit impressive analytical and diagnostic capabilities as compared with gold standards (such as pH meters for acidity, ELISA for protein analysis, FDA approved automated instruments for cardiac risk factors and planar DNA chips for nucleotide detection), their compact design and low cost also allows for their use in numerous important applications areas. This talk will explore the synergies between the homeland defense, human medicine and humanitarian efforts in areas where these bio-nano-chip sensor systems show promise. (pdf)


    Detecting Cancer With Saliva

    University of Texas College of Natural Sciences Press Release

    HOUSTON, Texas—Biochemist John McDevitt’s lab-on-a-chip technology was used by researchers at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston to identify and quantify specific protein markers in human saliva to provide an early, non-invasive diagnosis of breast cancer.

    The hope is that people may some day receive cancer screening simply and quickly during regular visits to the dentist or other health care facilities.

    “Why not the dentist?” said lead researcher Charles Streckfus, D.D.S., a University of Texas Dental Branch at Houston professor of diagnostic sciences with an expertise in salivary function and molecular epidemiology. “Most folks, especially women and children, visit the dental office way more often than they ever see the physician. Saliva is a non-invasive, quicker way for detection.” (pdf)


    LabNow gets $20 million investment Cash infusion to help develop device used in AIDS treatment

    Austin American Statesman

    LabNow Inc., an Austin biotech company that has developed a portable device that will help treat AIDS patients in Africa and Asia, has secured an investment of $20 million.
    The company, which was on a shoestring budget only seven months ago after spending its initial $14 million investment, now has a "chance to do everything we had hoped with this money," CEO Rick Hawkins said. "This is very exciting for us."

    The lead investor is Dallas-based Sammons Enterprises, with additional money from Austin Ventures and local private investors.

    Hawkins said the $20 million will help the company establish a manufacturing line and conduct clinical trials necessary to win Food and Drug Administration approval for its toaster-size device that can analyze a drop of blood. (pdf)


    Lab-on-a-chip sensor rapidly diagnoses oral cancer

    Oncology News International

    AUSTIN, Texas—Wedding high technology to recent advances in understanding the molecular biology of oral squamous cell carcinoma, a University of Texas research team has developed a prototype sensor that can diagnose the most common form of oral cancer in about 10 minutes without a biopsy.

    The fully automated lab-on-a-chip measures levels of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), which is overexpressed by oral cancers. The researchers are now expanding the sensor's detection powers to include other proteins and genes that serve as biomarkers for the cancer before they begin clinical trials.more...(pdf)


    Commercialize this: 10-minute cancer test

    Tech Confidential Blog

    Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin have come up with a simple-to-use and cheap device that can detect cancerous cells while a patient waits in the doctor's office. Currently the device tests for oral cancer cells but could likely be adapted to detect cervical cancer cells as well. The device is made of acrylic and contains a fluorescent tag that adheres to proteins found in cancerous cells, known as biomarkers. Patient samples with cancerous cells then glow green under a fluorescent microscope. The equipment needed to perform the test is relatively cheap, and the process takes about 10 minutes. (pdf)


    Ten-minute cancer test*

    ABC News: Technology & Science

    Researchers are developing a microfluidics device that can identify cancer cells during a routine visit to the doctor's office.

    Researchers at the University of Texas are developing a microfluidics device that detects oral-cancer cells in 10 minutes and is simple and cheap enough for use in the dentist's office. The device could be adapted to test for other cancers, including cervical cancer. It works well on cancer cells grown in the lab and is currently being tested on biopsies from oral-cancer patients. (pdf)


    *Above referenced article also published by
    MIT Technology Review (pdf)



    Ten-minute cancer screening possible

    EE Times: Design News

    A new in-office test for oral cancer that takes only 10 minutes will soon be available using lab-on-a-chip microfluidic electronics, according to scientists supported by the National Institutes of Health. Billed as the world's first fully automated, all-in-one test, the lab-on-a-chip electronic reader, which is about half the size of a toaster, can scan cells brushed from the inside of the mouth with a swab. more...(pdf)


    Lab on a Chip for Oral Cancer Shows Promise*

    National Institutes of Health Press Release

    Finding out whether that unusual sore in your mouth is cancerous should become a lot faster and easier in the years ahead. Scientists supported by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR), part of the National Institutes of Health, have engineered the first fully automated, all-in-one test, or lab on a chip, that can be programmed to probe cells brushed from the mouth for a common sign of oral cancer.

    About half the size of a toaster, the portable device yields results in just under 10 minutes, or well within the duration of a routine visit to a dentist or doctor. Currently, patients must undergo an often painful tissue biopsy and usually wait three days to a week for the lab results. “What’s exciting is the speed and efficiency that this test will bring to the diagnostic process,” said John McDevitt, Ph.D., a scientist at the University of Texas at Austin and the senior author on the paper, published in the August issue of the journal Lab on a Chip. “No longer will patients need to endure referrals, long waits for test results, and scheduling follow up consultations. Patients will get immediate results and feedback from their dentist or doctor on how best to proceed.”. more...(pdf)


    *Above referenced article also published by
    Viddya Medical News Service (pdf)


    Spit May Expedite Medical Diagnoses

    San Antonio Express-News Medical Writer

    First you spit.

    Apply a drop or two of saliva to a plastic card, about the size of a bar coaster, embedded with a tiny chip. Fifteen minutes later, find out what ails you — from infections to heart disease to certain cancers.

    That's the idea behind a federally funded, $6.1 million project that includes researchers from San Antonio, Austin and Kentucky. At the heart of the project is a lab on a chip, developed by chemists and engineers at the University of Texas at Austin. A biosensor the size of a microchip can be taught to recognize dozens of antibodies and proteins that point to specific diseases. more...(pdf)


    Professor John McDevitt's research uses saliva to diagnose health and disease

    UT Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry press release

    Innovative saliva-based health diagnostic tools will be developed by Professor John McDevitt through a $6 million, multi-institutional grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

    Saliva-with its slimy mix of proteins, hormones and antibodies-can tell a lot about a person's health, and it is much easier and less painful to collect than blood. But, the medical community lacks the technologies to perform large-scale salivary diagnostics. With collaborators at three medical schools, Professor McDevitt aims to develop lab-on-a-chip sensor systems for measuring important biomarkers in saliva samples. (pdf)


    Texas Researchers Aim to Use Saliva To Diagnose Health and Disease

    UT College of Natural Sciences press release

    AUSTIN, Texas—Innovative saliva-based health diagnostic tools will be developed by researchers at The University of Texas at Austin through a $6 million, multi-institutional grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Saliva—with its slimy mix of proteins, hormones and antibodies—can tell a lot about a person’s health, and it is much easier and less painful to collect than blood. But, the medical community lacks the technologies to perform large-scale salivary diagnostics. (pdf)


    Dental Compare: The Buyer's Guide for Dental Professionalsfeatured the above UT press item in their Restorative News on 12 February 2007.


    UT Heads Up Medical Research Project

    Austin Business Journal

    The University of Texas is leading a $6 million research project to develop medical diagnostic tools that involve saliva rather than blood.

    Saliva contains proteins, hormones and antibodies that can serve as key indicators about a patient's health, and it's easier and often less painful to obtain than blood. But no technology exists on a large scale for doctors to study saliva as a diagnostic tool. (pdf)


    Oral-Based Diagnostics Overview

    New York Academy of Sciences eBriefings

    Blood and urine samples are the basis for over 90% of routine medical tests performed today. But as the use of diagnostic tests proliferates, there is an increasing call for less invasive procedures in clinical practice. Oral-based diagnostics are a leading alternative, and their use has expanded rapidly over the last decade.

    The search for biomarkers for disease and response to therapy has focused on blood because of its systemic reach and the robust size of the sample. But few patients take kindly to multiple blood draws, they require skilled personnel, and all those who handle samples run the risk of exposure to blood-borne pathogens. (pdf)


    DEVICES TO DROOL FOR: Miniaturized analytical techniques are now sensitive enough to detect traces of biomarkers in saliva. Is saliva ready for point-of-care diagnostic devices?

    ACS Publications: Analytical Chemistry, 1 July 2006

    Which would you prefer: getting a needle stuck into your arm for a blood test or spitting into a cup? Most people would grab the cup.

    Officials at the U.S. National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) realize that. Since the early 2000s, they have been coaxing physicians and researchers to consider saliva as a diagnostic fluid, much like blood or urine. Now that miniaturized analytical techniques are sensitive enough to detect trace amounts of analytes in saliva, they think it’s time to make point-of- care salivary diagnostic devices commonplace (1–3).

    NIDCR has funded multidisciplinary approaches to develop saliva-based devices to diagnose illnesses like oral cancer, diabetes, infectious diseases, and pancreatic cancer. “The real end goal here, something that we think is technically feasible, is to create a lab-on-a-chip [device] that is sufficiently small that it can be placed in your mouth so that it’s there all the time,” says Lawrence Tabak, the director of NIDCR. (pdf)


    Faster Testing for HIV Patients

    The Daily Texan

    A new portable test undergoing development by chemistry and biochemistry professor John McDevitt seeks to dramatically increase the potential and speed of the HIV-testing process and treatment. "The stakes are high, with 8,000 people a day dying," McDevitt said. The new test will provide HIV patients with immediate results concerning the number of CD4+ cells, which are white blood cells that HIV attacks and destroys in the immune system. (pdf)


    Handheld Puts AIDS Fight in Field

    Wired News

    A new HIV test the size of a credit card promises to diagnose the disease in minutes rather than weeks, and could be deployed in sub-Saharan Africa as early as next year. The device could solve one of the vexing problems of AIDS treatment in underdeveloped countries, where patients are not within easy reach of medical facilities. By providing an on-the-spot diagnosis, doctors hope to close the gap between the cracks. more... (pdf)


    UT researchers work on fighting cancer, HIV - One professor's studies successful in rat test; colleague's technology could be used in Africa soon.

    The Daily Texan

    John McDevitt, a professor in the College of Natural Sciences, has spent the past eight years developing HIV-fighting technology that could soon be implemented in Africa. Meanwhile, Kimberly Kline, an ecology professor, and Bob Sanders, a microbiology professor, have conducted preclinical studies on an innovative way to cure cancer that has been successful in tests with rats. (pdf)


    Former Senator Bill Bradley Joins LabNow Board of Directors

    LabNow News

    LabNow, Inc., an innovative provider of lab-on-a-chip technology, has announced the appointment of former Senator Bill Bradley to the company's Board of Directors.

    Rick Hawkins, Chairman and CEO of LabNow, expressed his excitement regarding Senator Bill Bradley's appointment. "Senator Bradley brings a wealth of knowledge and skills to LabNow. HIV/AIDS is a highly politicized disease and his legislative experience on healthcare issues acquired during his eighteen years as Senator of New Jersey, the heart of the pharmaceutical and biotechnology world, is a major asset to the company. Bill Bradley's accomplishments speak for themselves. Rhodes Scholar, NBA Hall of Fame, U.S. Senator. I know that his input will add immeasurable energy and value to LabNow's cause." (pdf)


    Handheld device 'could monitor HIV cheaply'


    Researchers have developed a cheap, fast and portable way of monitoring HIV patients' immune systems.

    They aim to develop it into a handheld device that could greatly improve HIV treatment for people living in rural areas in poor countries with few medical resources. (pdf)


    Austin American Statesman - "John McDevitt has a sense for science applied."

    On a sunny Saturday afternoon in May at entrepreneur Rick Hawkins' stunning home overlooking Town Lake, John McDevitt looked happy and relaxed. Dressed in a polo shirt and ...read more.

    Microfluidics for maximum impact

    Rice undergraduates try their hand at new breed of medical diagnostics

    To kick-start a revolution in medicine, it's not enough to invent the devices that will make it happen. You also have to invent the doctors and technicians who will drive the changes to come.

    For the first time, Rice University this semester offered a practical course in microfluidics, the basis for "lab-on-a-chip" technologies that are expected to improve patient care while cutting health care costs in the United States and abroad.

    The course was taught by John McDevitt, Rice's Brown-Wiess Professor in Bioengineering and Chemistry, whose pioneering Programmable Bio-Nano-Chips are the focus of six current human trials to detect cancers, cardiovascular disease and drug abuse. Through the course, 11 Rice undergraduates and four graduate students finished the construction of their own devices in the wet lab at Rice's Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen (OEDK). (pdf)


    A potential nano-bio-chip for rapid detection of oral cancer is developed

    Researchers have developed a minimally invasive, novel nano-bio-chip that would be able to differentiate between malignancies, premalignancies and nonmalignant lesions within 15 min. Pre-liminary studies by the researchers using the diagnostic chip have demonstrated comparable success rates to traditional techniques, such as biopsies, highlighting the new technique as a suitable alternative to the commonly utilized method. (pdf)


    National Cancer Institute Nanotech News

    Nano-Bio-Chip checks for oral cancer

    A new test that uses Rice's diagnostic nano-bio-chip was found to be 97 percent "sensitive" and 93 percent specific in detecting which patients had malignant or premalignant lesions, results that compared well with traditional tests. more... 

    Diagnosing heart attacks

    BayNews9.com (St. Petersburg, Fla.)

    Researchers in the McDevitt laboratory at Rice University are testing a new diagnostic tool to quickly diagnose heart attacks. Nano bio-chip may help doctors diagnose heart attacks. more...

    Diagnosing heart attacks before they strike

    Ivanhoe Broadcast News and the American Institute of Physics

    Researchers in the McDevitt research laboratory are testing a new kind of diagnostic tool to quickly diagnose heart attacks (video link).

    Saliva Cardiac Bio-Nano-Chip: A spit test for heart attacks

    popsci.com Best of What's New 2008 Award

    This year, San Antonio EMT crews began using a spit test that detects cardiac arrest faster, more accurately and more cheaply than other diagnostic tests. Engineered by researchers at the University of Texas, the chip can measure proteins in saliva that signal heart attacks long before the ambulance pulls into the ER. more... (pdf)

    Spit test spots recent heart attacks

    Speeds up diagnosis, reduces the number of missed MIs

    Pinpointing patients who've just suffered a heart attack may soon be as simple as asking them to spit into a tube. Transfer the saliva onto a lab card with integrated bio-chip, push that card into an analyser — and voilà, 15 minutes later you have your answer. The test is quick and painless and could be administered in the ambulance, yielding a result even before the patient arrives at the hospital. more... (pdf)

    Spit-Sample Test Quickly Identifies Breast Cancer

    R&D Digest (originally published MD&DI March 2008)

    Thanks to a nanobiochip, a woman could know in minutes whether she has breast cancer by spitting into a cup. A team of researchers at the University of Texas (UT) developed the saliva-based test, which could detect breast and other types of cancer in the future.

    The lab-on-a-chip system miniaturizes a test that is traditionally conducted in large labs. Its concept was born more than a decade ago at UT with the help of professors John McDevitt, PhD, and Charles Streckfus. DDS. They were working independently on different elements of saliva-based diagnostics at separate campuses of UT. (pdf)

    Lab-on-a-Chip Oral Cancer Screening Tests

    University of Texas at Austin Press Release

    This year about 34,000 Americans will be diagnosed with oral or throat cancer. These types of cancer will result in over 8,000 deaths this year, or about 1 person every hour, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Of the 34,000 newly diagnosed oral cancer patients, only half will be alive in 5 years. The prognosis for this group of cancer patients has not significantly improved over the last few decades. Worldwide the problem is much greater, with over 350,000 new cases each year.
    The reason for the high mortality rate here is that oral cancer is typically discovered only in the late stages of its development. Once discovered, oral cancer is particularly dangerous because it tends to produce second site, primary tumors. Unfortunately, for patients that do survive a first encounter, they have up to a 20 times higher risk of developing a second type of cancer. There are many types of oral cancers, but 90% fall into the type of squamous cell carcinomas.

    Many oral cancer patients are diagnosed during a dental exam. While there are some tools used by dentists to help diagnose the disease, most of the tools lack the sensitivity and selectivity to make this diagnosis reliable or are associated with side effect for the patient. New methodologies that can be used at the point-of-care are desperately needed to help improve the diagnostic and prognostic capabilities for this area. Follow up visits which serve to follow the progression of the disease after treatment are one area that may be particularly well suited for a lab-on-a-chip portable oral cancer screening unit. We are now involved in an active collaboration supported by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research Division of the NIH that pairs the McDevitt lab at the University of Texas at Austin with the labs of Dr. Spencer Redding and Dr. Chih-Ko Yeh at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.

    In this paper published in Lab on a Chip (featured on inside front cover), we describe a lab-on-a-chip system that may be suitable for the screening of oral cancer patients.