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To develop very small biosensors to detect pancreatic cancer and other diseases in which early detection reduces mortality rates.
Dr. Marc Porter and his research team's primary research focuses on nanotechnology "biosensors" to detect materials in biological systems at ultra-low levels of concentration. These biosensors have great potential for use in immunoassays - the detection of proteins and viruses in biological materials like blood and urine. One of Porter's research areas, giant magnetoresistors (GMRs) centers on developing disease detection methods using the same magnetic principles as a common computer hard drive. Porter's group uses magnetic nanoparticles combined with antibodies to capture and bind proteins, viruses, and other disease markers. The GMRs use magnetic responses to detect the presence of the captured disease proteins at a nanoscale level, making early detection of diseases possible.
Dr. Porter and his colleagues developed novel uses for spherical, cubic, and rod-shaped gold nanoparticles that are used in early detection of disease. For example, Porter and his team have developed the first system to accurately diagnose pancreatic cancer at a stage early enough that therapy might be able to help decrease the current 50 percent mortality rate.