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Graduate student from NDSU creates a cancer detecting device



Fargo, North Dakota – Mahek Sadiq, a fourth-year PhD student at NDSU, is using her cancer research to make important advances in the field of biomedical engineering.

Sadiq began her research career as an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at NDSU, working with Danling Wang. She spent four years as a research assistant in his lab, focusing on two-dimensional nanomaterials for use in biomedicine.
She claims that her interest in cancer research stems from several personal encounters. Her family is in the medical field, so she grew up hearing conversations about illnesses, particularly 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.

Her work focuses on developing state-of-the-art technology for tissue regeneration and cancer treatment.

They act as sensitive and selective chemo-resistive biosensors, primarily concentrating on certain nanoparticles.

Sadiq says, “These sensors excel in detecting minute quantities of cancer specimens. 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 shows any symptoms at their early stages, for example, pancreatic cancer.”

Sadiq’s research goes beyond cancer diagnoses to include tissue regeneration. She hopes to enable smooth tissue regeneration by adding sensors to scaffolds for tissue regeneration and keeping an eye on the appearance or return of cancer in the surrounding tissue.

She uses this information to investigate sensor testing, gadget development, and material synthesis. Sadiq highlights the value of teamwork and says that she finds an interdisciplinary approach to be helpful for her learning.

“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. Here, 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 notes.

Her team’s idea, which used a nanomaterial sensor to diagnose lung cancer early, won first place in the graduate track of the 2020 North Dakota Innovation Challenge.

Sadiq envisions a professional path that includes doing more research in academic institutions or research centers. She is passionate about teaching and knowledge sharing, and she hopes to actively participate in educational activities while also helping the biomedical research sector expand.