(Screengrabbed from NAST PHL Facebook page awarding ceremony.)

A FACULTY member from the Department of Chemical Engineering won first prize for his research on a biosensor that can help detect cancer-related DNA.

The award was given during the 2020 National Academy of Science and Technology (NAST) Talent Search for Young Scientists last June 26 at the Philippine Science Heritage Center in Taguig City.

“I made a signal amplifier of my test that even at a low DNA concentration I was able to detect it,” Lapitan told the Varsitarian in an online interview.

The signal amplifier is an additional component of the biosensor made from a polymer bead tagged with multiple copies of enzyme, which can detect the target DNA down to an incomparable level.

“This study also presented the remarkable potential of biosensor as one of the most sensitive PCR-free DNA detection strategies reported in the global biosensing platform,” he added.

A biosensor is a device that incorporates various macromolecules in its system that can be used to detect the presence of various targets like DNA, protein, carbohydrates and antibodies.

He said this project could help improve people’s capacity for early cancer detection and improve the quality of life of people who are suffering from diseases.

“The importance of early diagnosis is the best strategy to respond to the steadily increasing number of reported cancer cases in the country,” he said.

Lapitan obtained his bachelor and master degrees in chemistry at the University. He is also a resident researcher at the UST Research Center for the Natural and Applied Sciences, where he specializes in developing nanomaterial-hydrogel composites for smart antibacterial wound dressings as well as biosensors for early cancer diagnosis and for other diseases.

The NAST Talent Search for Young Scientists is a project of the National Academy of Science and Technology that seeks to encourage the youth to pursue careers in science.