“We compare the detection method to watching an eight-lane highway full of white compact cars. In our tests, the cancer cells look like a black 18-wheeler.”
University of Missouri researchers claim to be one step closer to melanoma cancer detection at the cellular level, long before tumors have a chance to form. Commercial production of a new device that measures melanoma using photoacoustics, or laser-induced ultrasound, will soon be available to scientists and academia for cancer studies.
Early detection of melanoma, the most aggressive skin cancer, is critical because melanoma will spread rapidly throughout the body. Currently, physicians use extremely expensive CT or MRI scans for melanoma cancer detection.
The new photoacoustic device is the brainchild of John Viator, associate professor of biomedical engineering and dermatology in the Christopher S. Bond Life Sciences Center. The device emits laser light into a blood sample which is absorbed by melanin within the cancer cells. Those cancer cells then expand as the lasers rapidly heat and then cool the cancer cells, making them prominent to researchers. The device is also claimed to be able to capture the expanded cells, identifying the form of cancer the physicians are fighting and the best treatment method.
“Using a small blood sample, our device and method will provide an earlier diagnosis for aggressive melanoma cancers,” said “We compare the detection method to watching an eight-lane highway full of white compact cars. In our tests, the cancer cells look like a black 18-wheeler.”
“We are attempting to provide a faster and cheaper screening method, which is ultimately better for the patient and the physician,” Viator said. “There are several melanoma drugs on the horizon. Combined with the new photoacoustic detection method, physicians will be able to use targeted therapies and personalized treatments, changing the medical management of this aggressive cancer. Plus, if the test is as accurate as we believe it will be, our device could be used as a standard screening in targeted populations.”
Viator has recently signed a commercialization license to begin offering the device and method to scientists and academia for research. They are also preparing studies for FDA approval for clinical use to provide the data required to obtain U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval for early diagnosis of metastatic melanoma and other cancers. This is expected to take approximately two to three years. Viator says the final device will look similar to a desktop printer, and the costs to run the tests in a hospital would be a few hundred dollars.
Link to University of Missouri site including video.
Source: University of Missouri