Dec. 5, 2023

NDSU graduate student develops cancer detection technology


Mahek Sadiq, a fourth-year doctoral student at NDSU, is making significant strides in the field of Biomedical Engineering. 

Sadiq started her research career by working in NDSU associate professor of electrical and computer engineering Danling Wang's lab. Sadiq has worked in Wang’s lab for four years, specializing in two-dimensional nanomaterials for biomedical applications. Such nanomaterials have shown to have a high potential due to their unique properties including unusual electrical conductivity, high biocompatibility, large surface area, enhanced sensitivity and extraordinary optical and mechanical properties. 

Sadiq 's journey into cancer research is deeply rooted in personal experiences. Raised in a family of medical professionals, she was exposed to discussions about various diseases, with a particular emphasis on cancer. 

“Witnessing patients with advanced-stage cancer that had metastasized to different organs due to late diagnosis, often linked to the absence of early symptoms deeply impacted me, sparking a growing interest in cancer research,” said Sadiq.

Sadiq 's research focuses on the development of cutting-edge technologies for cancer therapy guidance and tissue regeneration. Her research revolves around the utilization of 2D Ti3C2 MXene nanomaterials, functioning as chemiresistive biosensors. These biosensors exhibit exceptional sensitivity and selectivity. 

“These sensors excel in detecting minute quantities of cancer specimens,” Sadiq said. “By comparing their responses to both cancerous and healthy samples, I can readily distinguish between carcinogenic and non-carcinogenic specimens. This is very beneficial to detect cancer that hardly show any symptoms at their early stages for example, pancreatic cancer.”

Beyond cancer diagnostics, Sadiq also extends her research into the realm of tissue regeneration. Incorporating sensors into scaffolds for tissue regeneration, she aims to facilitate seamless tissue regrowth while monitoring the emergence or relapse of cancer in the surrounding tissue.

With research spanning material synthesis, device development and sensing tests with various biological analytes, Sadiq finds an interdisciplinary approach enriches her own understanding while emphasizing the importance of teamwork in scientific endeavors. 

"Even though I am the primary individual working on this project, I collaborate with people from diverse fields," Sadiq said.

Sadiq earned first prize in the sixth annual North Dakota Biomedical Engineering Symposium where she presented her research on 'Ti3C2 MXene and PCL/HAPClay-based biosensor for early diagnosis of prostate cancer.

“This event provides an outstanding platform for Biomedical Engineering Graduate students to showcase their research to professionals in industry and academia” Sadiq said.

Sadiq 's team also earned first prize in the graduate track at the North Dakota Innovation Challenge in 2020 for their project on early diagnosis of lung cancer using their nanomaterial sensor.

Looking ahead, Sadiq sees a career path that involves continued research in academia or research institutions. With a passion for teaching and sharing knowledge, she aims to contribute to the growth of the biomedical research sector while actively engaging in educational endeavors.

This research was supported by the National Science Foundation under NSF EPSCoR Track-1 Cooperative Agreement OIA #1946202. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

Categories: Research
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