Minute Sensors Developed to Assist in Cancer Detection


Scientists at the College of Arts and Sciences at Syracuse University developed a new and novel class of nanomaterials to improve cancer detection.

The new material designed by scientists is capable of detecting protein-protein interactions (PPIs) in blood serum. It was designed by Liviu Movileanu, professor of physics in the College of Arts and Sciences at Syracuse University. The researchers feel that information from PPIs could assist in understanding cancer growth and spreading in cells. The findings were published in the journal Nature Biotechnology on December 10, 2018.

The tiny sensors could detect, analyze, and characterize the protein-protein interactions, an important part which leads to cancer growth.

Liviu Movileanu, author of the research study, said: “Detailed knowledge of the human genome has opened up a new frontier for the identification of many functional proteins involved in brief physical associations with other proteins. Major perturbations in the strength of these PPIs lead to disease conditions. Because of the transient nature of these interactions, new methods are needed to assess them.”

Since the PPIs stays for only a millisecond, it becomes difficult for the researchers to detect cell signaling and cancer development in the body. For its detection, Movileanu created a hole in the cell membrane through which he shoots an electric current. The researcher noted a change in the intensity of the electric current as the proteins go near or through the nanopore. These changes were noted to mark the proteins’ properties and its identities. Movileanu hopes his real-time techniques will detect cancers before they spread.