PhD Candidate, University of Bath
Aya is currently pursuing a Ph.D. at the University of Bath’s Centre for Regenerative Medicine and the Centre for Biosensors, Bioelectronics and Biodevices as a Schlumberger Foundation Faculty for the Future Fellow. She is using large-area electrodes to study the behavior of human cancer cells. By utilizing ultra-low noise sensors that exploit large area electrodes, she was able to detect an electrogenic basis to the metastasis of human breast cancer cells. The results suggest a link between the cells’ bioelectricity and their invasiveness which introduces new avenues for pharmacological targeting of breast cancer metastasis. Additionally, through the utilization of state-of-the-art stem cell patient samples of glioblastoma multiforme, she was able to find a link between the role of glial cells in triggering pH-sensitive seizures. These seizures have always been thought to have a primarily neuronal origin and until the advent of this platform, extremely weak electrical activity of glia has not been detected by commercially available multi-electrode arrays (MEA). For the glioblastoma project, she applied differentiation protocols to obtain a defined glial population that cultured for a prolonged period on the low-noise transducer. Then monitored the cells’ activity under different acidic environments and pharmacological inhibitors of acid sensing channels.
These major findings would not have been possible without a sensitive enough system to detect such low frequency signals. The high sensitivity of the biosensors used, can be attributed to large electrode areas in the order of mm2 which maximize the Helmholtz-Gouy-Chapman double layer capacitance while enhancing the signal to noise ratio allowing for the detection of low frequency events that are usually filtered out by commercially available MEA.