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Michael Thompson, Speaker at Cancer Conferences
University of Toronto, Canada


Ovarian cancer is the most deadly gynaecological disease that affects a quarter of a million women annually, resulting in over 140,000 deaths worldwide. Currently, detection of ovarian cancer requires time-consuming imaging techniques such as transvaginal ultrasound and MRI scans, which are generally only performed if it is already suspected that the disease is present. Although the blood sample CA-125 assay is the current most widely-employed test for ovarian cancer, it is far from ideal for providing a diagnostic conclusion by itself, especially at the early-stages of development of the disease. Also, the assay is known to generate both false negative and positive results, accordingly there is a general consensus in the medical community that there is an urgent need for disease detection based on alternative biomarkers, especially those that could be employed for assays at stages 1 and 2 in terms of disease progression. In our research on the detection of the disease, we are developing both a simple, low cost spectroscopic assay and, secondly, a detection system by biosensor configuration which could be employed for large scale screening of serum samples. Both systems are based on the sensing of the biomarker, lysophosphatidic acid (LPA), which has a sensitivity and specificity of over 90% for the disease, rendering it highly promising for use in testing for ovarian cancer. Successful detection of LPA has been achieved by HPLC-mass spectrometric methods this approach is obviously is not amenable to large scale screening. Our assays are based on the highly selective disruption of a protein complex composed of gelsolin and actin by LPA. The spectroscopic test involves the fluorescent detection of labelled actin removed by LPA present in serum with the gelsolinactin combination being attached to silica and magnetic nanoparticles. Analogous chemistry is being used to develop a high-throughput biosensor–based configuration with the protein complex being attached to the surface of an ultra-high frequency, SH-acoustic wave lithium niobate device. The latter is capable of direct operation in serum and in an anti-fouling condition.


Professor Michael Thompson obtained his undergraduate degree from the University of Wales, UK and his PhD in analytical chemistry from McMaster University. Following a period as Science Research Council PDF at Swansea University he was appointed Lecturer in Instrumental Analysis at Loughborough University. He then moved to the University of Toronto where he is now Professor of Bioanalytical Chemistry. He has held a number of distinguished research posts including the Leverhulme Fellowship at the University of Durham and the Science Foundation Ireland E.T.S Walton Research Fellowship at the Tyndall National Institute, Cork City. He is recognized internationally for his pioneering work over many years in the area of research into new biosensor technologies and the surface chemistry of biochemical and biological entities. He has made major contributions to the label-free detection of immunochemical and nucleic acid interactions and surface behavior of cells using ultra high frequency acoustic wave physics. Recently,scanning Kelvin nanoprobe detection has been introduced which offers the multiplexed detection of biochemical phenomena. Thompson has served on the Editorial Boards of a number of major international journals including Analytical Chemistry, The Analyst, Talanta, Analytica Chimica Acta and Biosensors and Bioelectronics. He is currently Editor-in-Chief of the monograph series “Detection Science” for the Royal Society of Chemistry,UK.He has been awarded many prestigious international prizes for his research including The Robert Boyle Gold Medal of the Royal Society of Chemistry, E.W.R. Steacie Award of the Chemical Society of Canada, the Theophilus Redwood Award of the Royal Society of Chemistry and the Fisher Scientific Award in Analytical Chemistry of the Chemical Society of Canada.He was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 1999.