Can­cer de­tec­tion may be pos­si­ble by phone

The China Post - - LIFE -

A new de­vice that can be added to a smart­phone may be able to ac­cu­rately and cheaply di­ag­nose can­cer, a tech­nol­ogy which could be use­ful in re­mote ar­eas, U.S. re­searchers said Mon­day.

Known as D3, the add-on is de­signed to be used by med­i­cal ex­perts, not the gen­eral public, and so far ap­pears as ac­cu­rate as more in­volved and costly tests in cur­rent use, but at a price of a mere US$1.80 per pa­tient.

The re­search is de­scribed in the Pro­ceed­ings of the Na­tional Academy of Sciences, a peer-re­viewed U.S. jour­nal.

“We be­lieve the plat­form we have de­vel­oped pro­vides es­sen­tial fea­tures at an ex­tra­or­di­nary low cost,” said co-au­thor Ce­sar Cas­tro, a doc­tor at the Mas­sachusetts Gen­eral Hos­pi­tal Can­cer Cen­ter and Cen­ter for Sys­tems Bi­ol­ogy.

D3 stands for dig­i­tal diffrac­tion di­ag­no­sis, and the sys­tem “fea­tures an imag­ing mod­ule with a bat­tery-pow­ered LED light clipped onto a stan­dard smart­phone that records high-res­o­lu­tion imag­ing data with study.

“With a much greater field of view than tra­di­tional mi­croscopy, the D3 sys­tem is ca­pa­ble of record­ing data on more than 100,000 cells from a blood or tis­sue sam­ple in a sin­gle im­age.”

The process in­volves adding mi­crobeads to a sam­ple of blood or tis­sue. The mi­crobeads bind to known can­cer-re­lated mol­e­cules. The sam­ple is then loaded into the D3 imag­ing mod­ule.

That data can be quickly sent via a se­cure, en­crypted cloud ser­vice to a pro­cess­ing server.

Then, the pres­ence of spe­cific mol­e­cules, which show if can­cer is present, can be de­tected by an­a­lyz­ing the diffrac­tion pat­terns gen­er­ated by the mi­crobeads, the study said.

Re­sults can be re­turned to the doc­tor in min­utes or hours, rather than days or weeks.

A pi­lot test of the sys­tem us­ing cer­vi­cal biopsy sam­ples from 25 women who had ab­nor­mal Pap smears showed a level of ac­cu­racy that matched the cur­rent in­dus­try stan­dard for di­ag­nos­tic testing,

its cam­era,” said the the study said.

An­other test us­ing the D3 to an­a­lyze fine-nee­dle lymph node biopsy sam­ples “was ac­cu­rately able to dif­fer­en­ti­ate four pa­tients whose lym­phoma di­ag­no­sis was con­firmed by con­ven­tional pathol­ogy from an­other four with be­nign lymph node en­large­ment,” said the find­ings.

More re­search is needed on a larger num­ber of can­cers to ver­ify the pre­lim­i­nary find­ings of the new de­vice.

But re­searcher Ralph Weissleder, direc­tor of the MGH Cen­ter for Sys­tems Bi­ol­ogy, said he ex­pects the de­vice will break down many of the bar­ri­ers that ex­ist in can­cer di­ag­no­sis, par­tic­u­larly in re­mote or im­pov­er­ished ar­eas.

“By tak­ing ad­van­tage of the in­creased pen­e­tra­tion of mo­bile phone tech­nol­ogy world­wide, the sys­tem should al­low the prompt triag­ing of sus­pi­cious or high­risk cases that could help to off­set de­lays caused by limited pathol­ogy ser­vices in those re­gions and re­duce the need for pa­tients to re­turn for fol­low-up care, which is of­ten chal­leng­ing for them.”

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