The SMILE Project


SMILE project: A Saw-Mip Integrated device for oraL cancer Early detection

The aim of SMILE project is the development of a low-cost device for oral cancer early screening, necessary for a disease which is highly aggressive if diagnosed at a late stage. SMILE project will combine Surface Acoustic Waves, as detection method, and Molecularly Imprinted Polymers technology as capture probes on the surface of the transducer. It will be able to detect biomarkers from saliva specimen with features of high sensitivity, specificity and ease of use. The device will be realized by CNR Nanotec and STMicroelectronics as a compact and simple platform that may be used, for example, by physicians or dentists, with minimal training, to reach a large audience of patients for a real prevention of cancer and to preserve oral health and smile!￿

PI: Dr. Maria Serena Chiriacò (CNR NANOTEC)

Co-PI: Dr. Francesco Ferrara (STMicroelectronics)


SMILE Short Presentation - Link ->

Feature stories ATTRACT projects.

  1. What has the ATTRACT seed funding enabled you to do so far? SMILE ATTRACT funding enabled us to set-up an interdisciplinary and international teamwork equipped with some innovative laboratory tools with the ambitious aim to develop a biosensing platform for the early diagnosis of oral cancer from saliva. We are now working hard to collect results in order to demonstrate that our idea can radically change current approach to this disease in a non-invasive manner.
  2. What challenges have you faced so far? ATTRACT timeline is really tightened and this push people working to be always motivated to maximize research strength. One-year project allows research centers and companies to align their needs like time-to-market and fast demonstration of great benefit of diagnostic devices. Lump-sum funding gives the possibility to organize and to manage resources easily and with high strategic planning.
  3. Where does your ATTRACT journey go from here? Our basic idea for the early screening of oral cancer through the detection of non-blood biomarkers can be in principle applied to other diseases, imaging an increasing compliance for patients and a step forward in large scale early cancer detection.
  4. Sum up in two sentences the advantages of the ATTRACT Programme over other research funding schemes. One-year funded projects contribute to the fast and clear knowledge transfer from the research state- of-the-art to the industrial concept. ATTRACT Programme allows researchers to feel as part of a big scientific community which interacts to share knowledge and contribute to overcome social challenges ranging from environmental to clinical issues.

SMILE graphical Abstract Feature Stories

SMILE Project Resources



  1. Ferrara, F., et al., Beyond liquid biopsy: Toward non-invasive assays for distanced cancer diagnostics in pandemics. Biosensors & Bioelectronics, 2022. 196.
  2. Volpe, A., et al., A Smart Procedure for the Femtosecond Laser-Based Fabrication of a Polymeric Lab-on-a-Chip for Capturing Tumor Cell. Engineering, 2021. 7(10): p. 1434-1440.
  3. Zoupanou, S., et al., Innovative 3D Microfluidic Tools for On-Chip Fluids and Particles Manipulation: From Design to Experimental Validation. Micromachines, 2021. 12(2).
  4. Zoupanou, S., et al., SMILE Platform: An Innovative Microfluidic Approach for On-Chip Sample Manipulation and Analysis in Oral Cancer Diagnosis. Micromachines, 2021. 12(8).