Every day, cancer kills about 1,500 people in the United States.

Dr. Nick Wu is determined to change that.

Wu, an associate professor in Department of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering at West Virginia University’s College of Engineering and Mineral Resources, recently received two National Institute of Health grants to develop nano-biotechnology to diagnose cancer and toxicity of nanoparticles. By incorporating nanomaterials with biomolecules, he is working to develop biosensors for detection of cancers, drugs and environmental toxins.

“Dr. Wu’s research is an excellent example of how the research here at WVU changes lives,” said Gene Cilento, Glen H. Hiner dean of the College of Engineering and Mineral Resources.

Wu’s group is developing nanoparticles and nano-dots as an optical or electronic “tongue” to sense the ovarian cancer biomarkers. If successful, the device to be developed could be potentially used to screen ovarian cancer at a clinic office during a routine health examination.

Ovarian cancer is the fifth leading cause of cancer death among women in the U.S. The survival rate can reach 93 percent if the cancer is diagnosed at an early stage before it has spread. However, only 19 percent of ovarian cancer cases are diagnosed at the early-stage because it is extremely difficult to measure a low level of cancer biomarkers at the early-stage.

Dr. Wu is collaborating with Dr. Andrij Holian at University of Montana, Drs. Dale Porter and Krish Sriram at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, as well as Dr. Feng Yang in WVU’s Department of Industrial Engineering to study the toxicity of nanomaterials.

“Our goal is to develop new nano-biotechnology to improve our life quality and also to protect human against the side-effects of new products,” said Wu.

Nanoscience is the science of the extremely tiny: not as small as atoms or molecules, but much smaller than anything you can see. At these “nanoscales,” materials possess properties that are very different from those that one is accustomed to, giving them unique abilities. Nanoscale science and engineering is the attempt to learn about and use those special properties in the creation of novel products for a range of different industries.

Wu also participates in WVNano , West Virginia’s focal point for nanoscale science that was elevated to a statewide initiative as a result of the 2006 EPSCoR Research Infrastructure Improvement award. The research is currently supported by National Science Foundation and National Institute of Health.



CONTACT: Nicole Riggleman, College of Engineering and Mineral Resources
(304)293-4257; Nicole.riggleman@mail.wvu.edu

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