The researcher from the University of Missouri (UniMiss) is developing a tiny sensor, known as an acoustic resonant sensor, that is smaller than a human hair and could test bodily fluids for a variety of diseases, including breast and prostate cancers (lat. Prostate Carcinoma). According to Jae Kwon, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at MU, many disease-related substances in liquids are not easily tracked. In a liquid environment, most sensors experience a significant loss of signal quality, but by using highly sensitive, low-signal-loss acoustic resonant sensors in a liquid, these substances can be effectively and quickly detected — a brand-new concept that will result in a noninvasive approach for breast and prostate cancer detection.

Jae Kwon’s real-time, special acoustic resonant sensor uses micro/nanoelectromechanical systems (M/NEMS), which are tiny devices smaller than the diameter of a human hair, to directly detect diseases in body fluids. The sensor doesn’t require bulky data reading or analyzing equipment and can be integrated with equally small circuits, creating the potential for small stand-alone disease-screening systems. Jae Kwon’s sensor also produces rapid, almost immediate results that could reduce patient anxiety often felt after waiting for other detection methods, such as biopsies, which can take several days or weeks before results are known.

The ultimate goal is to produce a device that will simply and quickly diagnose multiple specific diseases and eventually be used to create ‘point of care’ systems, which are services provided to patients at their bedsides. The sensor has strong commercial potential to be manifested as simple home kits for easy, rapid and accurate diagnosis of various diseases, such as breast cancer and prostate cancer.

Jae Kwon believes the sensor has strong commercial potential as part of simple home kits for the easy, fast and accurate diagnosis of a range of diseases and he was awarded a US$400,000, five year National Science Foundation CAREER Award to continue his efforts to develop the sensor.