The Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to Ferenc Krausz, Pierre Agostini and Anne L’Huillier for their experimental methods for generating attosecond light pulses to study the dynamics of electrons in matter. Professor Krausz was appointed director of the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics (MPQ) in Germany in 2003 and has been head of the Department of Experimental Physics at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität (LMU) in Munich since 2004. Molecular fingerprinting research in Hungary is carried out in close cooperation with these institutions, enabling the early detection of so-called civilisation diseases associated with ageing societies and increasing life expectancy in developed countries.
And what does this research mean? Laser molecular fingerprinting involves stimulating a blood sample with very short, attosecond laser flashes (a pulse of light that is a trillionth of a second) and using the afterglow of the molecules to infer whether there is a risk of disease. Their results so far show that serious diseases such as cancer or cardiovascular diseases can be detected at an early stage and can be treated more successfully with appropriate medical therapy. Research is therefore aimed at determining the range of molecular vibrations of each type of molecule that can be considered healthy, depending on age, and at finding links between detuning in molecular vibration and disease.
The main goal of the Molecular Fingerprinting Research National Laboratory, bringing together the best Hungarian laboratories in this field, with sites in Budapest and Szeged and led by Ferenc Krausz is to further develop this method and validate it on a large number of samples with the help of artificial intelligence. This could bring a paradigm shift in medical diagnostics, early detection of diseases, tracking their progress and modification, and health monitoring.
The direct benefits of disease prevention and health promotion need no explanation. When we are healthy, we feel better, more energetic, happier and more productive. And by preventing serious diseases, we could save up to HUF 1500-2000 billion a year in healthcare costs in Hungary alone, by reducing the need for costly therapies. Here’s another example: this is why it pays to support world-class Hungarian research and innovation that offers solutions to the most pressing social or economic challenges.