A team of researchers from HSE University, Skoltech, MPGU, and MISIS have developed a nanophotonic-microfluidic sensor that may be used for cancer detection, monitoring, and treatment response assessment. Today, the device can identify gases and liquids dissolved at low concentrations with a high degree of accuracy. The paper is published inOptics Letters.
According to the World Health Organization, in 2020, the global cancer burden was estimated to be 19.3 million new cases and ten million fatalities. Experts at the World Health Organization believe that an estimated 30% of new cases might be avoided, and that about the same proportion may be cured, with early detection.
Today, a lab-on-a-chip is a miniature sensor device capable of doing complex biochemical analysis that is considered to be one of the most promising methods to early cancer detection. A new hybrid nanophotonic-microfluidic sensor for extremely sensitive analysis of liquids and gases at very low concentration in solutions has been developed.
The current device consists of nanophotonic optical sensors on a chip in combination with microfluidic channels above the sensor surface. Fluids or gases pumped through the channels affect the propagation of optical radiation in the highly sensitive nanophotonic devices, affecting the output''s spectral characteristics. Through this research, researchers can determine the samples composition.
The tiny scale of the microfluidic channels that deliver specimens to the sensors is unavoidable. This makes it possible to obtain results even from very small samples, something that can be critical when an on-site inspection is not feasible, and specimens must be transported elsewhere for examination.
Human blood has various components that can be beneficial for early diagnosis of oncology diseases. These include extracellular vesicles (exosomes) which are known as exosomes. These extracellular vesicles are equities released into the intercellular space by tissue and organ cells.
''Cells communicate by using extracellular vesicles, such as exosomes, to send out messages,'' says Dmitry Gorin, a professor at the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology. However, certain factors, both internal (genetic predisposition) and external (environmental, such as radiation), can disrupt a cell''s normal functioning, causing it to send incorrect messages, leading to uncontrolled cell division and tumour growth.
Exosome blood concentrations are increasing at an early stage of cancer, indicating the presence of cancer, thus making them a potentially useful biomarker in oncology. The research team intends to develop their own device so it may be used for this method of cancer detection.
So far, the sensor has not been tested on blood samples but on water solutions of isopropyl alcohol in 20 different doses, from 0.08% to 73 percent by weight. This study investigated alcohol in a mixture of 12 molecules of water. The authors described the device as a tool that could be used in combination with microfluidic channels.
''Today, the experimental equipment needed for the device operation is quite large.'', according to Skoltech''s author. We anticipate a compact and portable device for rapid testing that will reduce the time and costs of cancer diagnosis, monitoring, and treatment response assessment.