Physicists and engineers at Case Western Reserve University, including Umut Gurkan, assistant professor of aerospace and mechanical engineering, have developed an optical sensor, based on nanostructured metamaterials, that’s 1 million times more sensitive than the current best available—one capable of identifying a single lightweight molecule in a highly dilute solution.
Their goal: to provide oncologists a way to detect a single molecule of an enzyme produced by circulating cancer cells. Such detection could allow doctors to diagnose patients with certain cancers far earlier than possible today, monitor treatment and resistance and more.
The prognosis of many cancers depends on the stage of the cancer at diagnosis,” said Giuseppe “Pino” Strangi, professor of physics at Case Western Reserve and leader of the research.
Opening the door for new detection method that could allow doctors to diagnose patients with certain cancers far earlier than possible today, researchers have developed an optical sensor that they claim is one million times more sensitive than the current best available.
Jim McGuffin-Cawley, chair of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, and John Lewandowski, the Arthur P. Armington Professor of Engineering II, discussed their projects funded through the America Makes initiative.