The application of nanotechnology in medicine has led husband and wife Marko Loparić and Marija Plodinec to discover a new, faster way to diagnose cancer in patients, which will significantly shorten the time it takes doctors to discover it. These PhD holders, who have been living and working in Basel for ten years, have invented a device called Artidis, based on the Atomic Force Microscope (AFM), which operates by applying to the surface under examination a mechanical probe the size of 20 nanometers. The Atomic Force Microscope is a thousand times more accurate than a microscope. It was invented in 1986 by IBM scientists Gerd Binnig, Heinrich Rohrer and Christof Berger in Zurich, earning them a Nobel Prize for physics. In cooperation with Gerber, the husband and wife began to experiment in order to adjust the device for medical use. They discovered that cancer cells have different mechanical properties both with respect to other cells and amongst themselves, which enabled them to accurately predict how the tumor would spread. This is very important because without proper markers, the doctors prescribe chemotherapy, which is not necessary for all the affected patients.

The final phase of testing Artidis will be carried out next year and it should be on the market, that is, in the departments of radiology and pathology, in three years.

The spouses were brought together by a passion for science and medicine, and the emergence of Artidis is linked to their decision to enrol, after finishing school, in graduate studies in the field of structural biology and biophysics in Basel in 2005. Following their interest in the application of nanotechnology in medicine and in the nanomechanics of tissue cells, AFM technology becomes the focus of their research. The advantage of Artidis is that does not require the preparation of tissue to be sent for analysis, but rather, a piece of tissue is placed in the device and the patient can receive the result within three hours. This will not only reduce costs, but also allow pathologists to dedicate themselves more to malignant diseases. The focus is on breast cancer, but good results were also recorded in the analysis of other malignant diseases such as prostate, liver, lung and colon cancer.

In 2012, Artidis was named one of the most innovative devices in Switzerland at the Swiss Innovation Forum.



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