Pakistani scientist develops device to diagnose cancer rapidly

Published: February 16, 2016
PHOTO: University of Texas at Arlington

PHOTO: University of Texas at Arlington

Pakistani electrical engineer at the University of Texas at Arlington has developed a new cancer cell detection method that will be able to  improve early diagnosis of cancer.

Samir Iqbal, an associate professor in the Electrical Engineering Department, detailed his team’s results in a recent Nature’s Scientific Reports paper called “Effects of Nanotexture on Electrical Profiling of Single Tumor Cell and Detection of Cancer from Blood in Microfluidic Channels.”

The tool works by tracking cellular behavior in real time using nanotextured walls that mimic layers of body tissue.

Iqbal has worked on the project with Young-tae Kim, a UTA associate professor in the Bioengineering Department;  Muhymin Islam,  a STEM doctoral candidate; and engineering students Mohammad Motasim Bellah, Adeel Sajid and Mohammad Raziul Hasan.

Iqbal said his team observed the many layers of tissue in the human body and decided to develop something that would mimic that layering.

“The answer was in creating a nanotextured wall that fools blood samples into thinking its actual tissue,” Iqbal said. “We used inherent properties of the cell walls to create a diagnostic tool. The cancer cells behave differently as they come into contact with the nanotextured walls. They dance,” he added.

Identifying those “dancing cells” will help doctors pinpoint cancer cells and start treatment earlier than allowed with current technology.

“Discovering the cancer earlier, before it metastasizes, is essential to surviving cancer,” Iqbal said. “Our device has the potential to do that.”

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The published results stem from a 2014 $480,000 National Science Foundation funding that sponsored the design and creation of the device. Iqbal has received nearly $1.4 million in grants since his arrival at UTA in 2007.

Those grants included an NSF CAREER grant to create a nanoelectronic microfluidic biochip to detect biomarkers. He also directs the UTA Nano-Bio Lab and is an affiliated faculty for the UTA Bioengineering Department.

Iqbal also is an adjunct professor in the Department of Urology at UT Southwestern Medical Center. In addition to his numerous research accolades, Iqbal is a senior member of IEEE-USA, a member of Biomedical Engineering Society, American Physical Society, American Society of Mechanical Engineers and Biophysical Society.

In 2013, Tau Beta Pi inducted him as an Eminent Engineer. Khosrow Behbehani, dean of the UTA College of Engineering, said Iqbal’s research is groundbreaking. “Dr. Iqbal and his colleagues are bringing engineering innovation to meet the challenge of early cancer detection,” Behbehani said.

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“The research aligns with UTA’s Strategic Plan, particularly the focus on Health and the Human Condition. Dr. Iqbal’s device could greatly improve cancer survival rates, which is good news for humanity. There are very few people around the world whose lives have not been touched by this dreadful disease.”

Iqbal did his bachelors from NED University of Engineering and Technology in Karachi in 1996 after which he did his PhD from Purdue University in Indiana.

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Reader Comments (16)

  • Point
    Feb 16, 2016 - 3:22PM

    Ultimately our medical doctors will now become more rich. All the got to buy this device and then rip off the pockets of poor pakistanis.Recommend

  • Factnotfiction
    Feb 16, 2016 - 3:30PM

    Excellent work Dr Iqbal.Recommend

  • Rollin & Trollin
    Feb 16, 2016 - 3:51PM

    Hearty congratz !! Pakistan’s logs up another success in STE.Recommend

  • Abcd
    Feb 16, 2016 - 4:09PM

    Excellent work. Making us proud.Recommend

  • Think Tank
    Feb 16, 2016 - 4:34PM

    That’s good work. One thing to notice that Pakistani scientist developed device but not in Pakistan, because we are unable provide adequate environment for research. Hope one day we do so. :)Recommend

  • Maheen
    Feb 16, 2016 - 4:48PM

    Great work Dr. Iqbal.
    U made our nation proud sir.Recommend

  • Thora Bora
    Feb 16, 2016 - 6:16PM

    Its good news for humanity. It would created a good image if Dr Iqbal collaborated with Pakistani any reputed institution to put forward his discovery. Recommend

    Feb 16, 2016 - 7:15PM

    Dr. Iqbal good work. Although sadly people of his caliber cannot work in NED even if they want to……..When Vice Chancellor of NED is the CM of Sindh what can you expect?Recommend

  • Zain Abidin - US
    Feb 16, 2016 - 7:54PM

    Very good news. This is a good week for Pakistani Scientist, first it was the Physicist Dr. Nergis Mavalvala and Dr. Imran Khan who were in the LIGO team that detected the gravity waves in space from distance stars and now Electrical Engineer Mr. Iqbal. for this new medical device discovery. Another Famous Pakistani Neurosurgeon invented a medical device few years ago that is named after him, the Omayya Shunt, that is placed in the brain to reduce the Intra Cranial Pressure. Pakistanis can do wonders if provided the opportunity. Don’t forget Dr. Abdus Sallaam, the only Noble Prize Winner in Science from Pakistan.Recommend

  • Rahul
    Feb 17, 2016 - 8:38AM

    Indian scientists have developed a Zika vaccine working in India. They have applied for a patent and if all goes well then it would be made available soon. It’s called Zikavac by Bharat Biotech.Recommend

  • Feb 17, 2016 - 10:29AM

    You should at least applaud Dr. Iqbal..Recommend

  • Shah
    Feb 17, 2016 - 12:19PM

    What Is It About You Indians And Your Mental Insecurities.This Is A Report About A Pakistni Sciectists And You Just Have Bring India Into ItRecommend

  • Amer
    Feb 18, 2016 - 9:26AM

    Maybe you should try to get a job somewhere & do something useful ? Telling us about irrelevant issues is not going to help anyone. Did we mention that we are not interested ?Recommend

  • Peter
    Feb 18, 2016 - 4:12PM

    Your comment reflects the typical Indian mentality. You know this reflects inferiority complex. Pathetic.Recommend

  • Ather
    Feb 18, 2016 - 5:01PM

    Kudos to Dr Iqbal for this brilliant invention. he has certainly made his country very proud. That was expected since Dr Iqbal earned his PhD from a prestigious University : Purdue. Again I am exulted at his brilliance.Recommend

  • usman778
    Feb 19, 2016 - 9:30PM

    @rahul, does india have vaccine for over-population of trolls?Recommend

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