Smart flow cytometry for cancer diagnosis using silicon single-photon sensors, nanoprobes & innovative FPGA-embedded phasor/lifetime processors

University of Strathclyde

Active award

Student: Dong Xiao

Year Award Started: 2018

Cancer is a key public health concern and a tremendous burden on European society. The lack of sensitive and affordable tools for early diagnosis of cancer remains key obstacles to reducing cancer mortality. To address this urgent need, we have been developing an innovative molecular imaging tool that consists of a nanoprobe for intracellular biomolecular assay and will develop a new instrument for fluorescence lifetime sensing flow cytometry as a diagnostic tool. The technique is based on a new type of mRNA nanoprobe that registers the target mRNA in single cells via fluorescence intensity and lifetime, facilitating downstream tumour cell differentiation via flow cytometry for increased speed of measurement, specificity and sensitivity. We have successfully constructed nanoprobes for cancer-related mRNAs and have demonstrated excellent specificity and sensitivity in co-cell cultures.

This project aims to develop a new instrument for rapid fluroescence lifetime measurement of nanoprobes in single cells. It will exploits three recent Scottish innovations: 1) smart sensors that can sense single photons and are manufactured in 2D arrays to boost acquisition, 2) innovative data processors implemented in high-speed programmable electronics that allow real-time analysis and 3) new cancer nanoprobes. With the proposed flow cytometer, we can examine million’s individual cells in a short time period and identify the small population of cancer cells in a liquid biopsy based on fluorescence intensity and lifetime of the nanoprobes.

Research area: Cancer


Dr David Li
Strathclyde Institute of Pharmacy & Biomedical Sciences (SIPBS)
Dr Yu Chen
Department of Physics

Photon Force Ltd