The goal of this project is to develop an accurate, reliable, cost-effective and non-invasive system for screening of high-risk individuals for early detection and monitoring of lung cancer. Given the high false positive rate (95%) of the current methods used in lung cancer screening, there is a large number of referrals for invasive biopsies and expensive two-year follow-up examinations that carry their own morbidity and mortality. Therefore, the objective of this research project is to develop a sensor device that can detect biomarkers for lung cancer cells accurately. The overall system integrates a microdevice, called a microtoroid resonator, with a very small gold particle, that has a diameter of about twenty nanometers, coated with DNA that can capture biomarkers for lung cancer cells. The manipulation of light is used to generate a signal when a positive test result occurs. Additionally, this research project is providing support for research training and mentorship that address the need to achieve greater diversity in STEM fields through recruitment, retention of minority and female undergraduate and graduate students.
The objective of this research project is to develop microtoroid resonators with integrated sputum non-coding RNA (ncRNA) biomarkers as lung cancer recognition elements for the robust, highly-sensitive and selective detection of non-small cell lung cancer. With circular cross-sections and controlled nanoscale defects, microtoroids are excellent candidates for the development of multiplexed photonic biosensor platform that is inexpensive and provide rapid detection of the ncRNA biomarkers in sputum. Nanoscale defects in microtoroids are well-suited for the incorporation of biorecognition elements to capture ncRNAs at low concentrations. The planned research strategy will translate the strengths of novel transcriptome profiling data developed from the whole-genome transcriptome into simpler screening tests, and thus bridge the gap between basic research and patient care. It is expected to produce a new point-of-care (POC) test using the microtoroid-based photonic biosensor, for accurate and multiplexed detection of ncRNAs in sputum, which is a convenient human body fluid for non-invasive diagnostics. Importantly, the photonic biosensor platform will have several advantages over existing techniques. 1) It is a label-free, amplification-free method and can provide a rapid method for ncRNA detection. 2) The sensor platform can monitor multiple targets simultaneously. 3) It can significantly reduce the hands-on time and reaction time for multiple miRNA detections compared to traditional techniques involving thermal cycling and microfluidic system, because it utilizes capture probes for direct ncRNA detection. 4) It does not require temperature cycling.