Label-free cancer cells detection using optical sensors

Mahmoud Al Ahmad, Adel Najar, Amine El Moutaouakil, Nida Nasir, Minas Hussein, Shaima Raji, Ali Hilal-Alnaqbi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Rapid and accurate label-free-based discrimination techniques between normal and cancer cells play an important role in non-invasive screening systems. Significant differences in cell composition for normal and cancer cells have been reported. Their interaction with light will cause a change in the optical absorption and transmission response. Hence, the advances in optical absorption methods along with signal processing could provide fingerprints that enable such discriminations and classifications. Here, we discriminate and identify several types of cells, such as BEAS-2B, HCC-827, THLE2, Hep G2, MCF 10A, and MDA MB231, in addition to HeLa and HEK-293T; each suspended in a homogeneous solution without labeling and using optical absorption-based method. Empirically, the cancer cells exhibit higher transmittance intensity when compared to normal ones from the same tissue type. Furthermore, the cells (both cancer and normal types) exhibit higher transmittance as per the following order: liver, lung, and breast. However, the normal cell suspensions exhibit higher optical absorption than cancer cells. The modifications of the optical response from normal to cancer state were explained mainly by morphological changes, modification of its physiological and biochemical properties that affect the refractive index and allowing them to be differentiated from each other.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8478139
Pages (from-to)55807-55814
Number of pages8
JournalIEEE Access
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Cancer
  • Cells
  • Detection
  • Label free
  • Optical
  • Sensors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Computer Science
  • General Materials Science
  • General Engineering


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