The possibility of an entirely new capability for detecting cancer at its earliest stages arises from University of Queensland physicists applying quantum physics to single molecule sensing for the first time.
Australian Research Council Future Fellow Professor Warwick Bowen said the research – reported inNature Photonics this week – demonstrated how quantum technologies could revolutionise the study of life’s “nanoscale machinery, or biological motor molecules”.
“Unlike methods currently available, the technique helps us observe the behaviour of single biomolecules without large-label particles or damaging light intensities.”
PhD student Nicolas Mauranyapin said motor molecules drove all of life’s primary functions, but scientists did not yet completely understand their workings.
“Our research opens a new door to study motor molecules in their native state, at the nanoscale,” Mr Mauranyapin said.
“The techniques required to detect extremely faint signals produced by distant black holes were developed over decades,” Dr Madsen said.
“Our research translates this technological development over to the biosciences and offers the possibility of a new biomedical diagnostics technique capable of detecting the presence of even a single cancer marker molecule.”
The project is part of the University of Queensland Precision Sensing Initiative, a joint initiative of the schools ofMathematics and Physics and of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering.
It was supported by the ARC Centre of Excellence for Engineered Quantum Systems, which aims to develop next-generation quantum technologies for future Australian industries.
Evanescent single-molecule biosensing with quantum limited precision (doi: 10.1038/nphoton.2017.99)
Source : University of Queensland