The CanSENS project aims at the development of a non-invasive and cost-effective breath analysis sensor platform for early-stage CoC screening, based on Surface-Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy (SERS).
Conventional techniques for detecting colon cancer (CoC), such as colonoscopy, are invasive, costly, and time-consuming. Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) detection in patients’ breath, has emerged as a new non-invasive method to diagnose and assess cancer at early stages. The proposed objectives include the fabrication of a prototype SERS sensor with high sensitivity, selectivity, and specificity; the development of a numerical chemometric model to identify the target VOCs of CoC; and clinical validation via breath samples of cancer patients versus healthy individuals, allowing multivariate analysis. These objectives will be achieved by incorporating novel single-dimensional nanomaterials for strong and quantitative SERS signal, which will further enhance the Raman sensing capabilities.
In order to increase the overall sensing surface area of the device (i.e. the SERS ‘hot spots’) and enable the detection of VOCs at low concentrations, the nanostructures will be self-assembled into networks using state of-the-art printed electronic techniques, including dielectrophoresis. SERS-based chemometric analysis will be performed on patients’ breath samples, providing an understanding of the complex relationship between the VOC profile and CoC occurrence. This project is multidisciplinary and includes aspects of engineering, chemistry, and clinical diagnostics. The fellow will work closely with experts in both academic and clinical sectors, for the development of a universal breath analysis platform that can potentially be expanded to detect other cancers.