A research group from the Russian HSE University, Skoltech University, Moscow Pedagogical State University (MPGU) and National University of Science and Technology (MISIS) has developed a nanophotonic-microfluidic sensor that can help with cancer diagnoses.

The sensor helps to detect, monitor and assess treatment response for the disease.

The researchers found that the new hybrid sensor device can identify liquids and gases that are dissolved at low concentrations with a highly sensitive analysis.

It features nanophotonic optical sensors on a chip along with microfluidic channels on the surface of the sensor.

HSE University noted that gases or liquids pumped through the channels affect the optical radiation propagation in the highly sensitive nanophotonic devices, which changes the output’s spectral characteristics.

Researchers can determine the composition of a sample by examining these changes.

The small size microfluidic channels help deliver specimens to the sensors, allowing results to be obtained even from very small samples.

HSE Tikhonov Moscow Institute of Electronics and Mathematics (MIEM) professor Gregory Goltsman said: “Our study is an important step towards creating a compact lab-on-a-chip device capable of not only performing a whole set of blood tests but detecting cancer biomarkers at an early stage using a very small amount of the patient’s blood.”

The researchers noted that exosome blood concentrations increase during the early stages of cancer, reaching analytically significant values that can make them useful biomarkers.

The group plans to improve the new hybrid sensor device so that it can also use this method of detection.