These self­ies can help save lives

Re­searchers un­cover app that can de­tect pan­cre­atic can­cer

USA TODAY US Edition - - MONEY - Brett Molina

Could a selfie help save your life?

Re­searchers at the Univer­sity of Wash­ing­ton are work­ing on an app that could an­a­lyze self­ies from your smart­phone to de­tect early signs of pan­cre­atic can­cer.

The app, called Bil­iScreen, uses the smart­phone’s cam­era along with a se­ries of al­go­rithms to check for lev­els of biliru­bin in the whites of a per­son’s eyes. This buildup of biliru­bin is one of the ear­li­est signs of pan­cre­atic can­cer, as well as other dis­eases such as jaun­dice or hepati­tis.

An early clin­i­cal study of 70 peo­ple found cor­rectly iden­ti­fied “cases for con­cern” nearly 90% of the time.

“The hope is that if peo­ple can do this sim­ple test once a month — in the pri­vacy of their own homes — some might catch the dis­ease early enough to un­dergo treat­ment that could save their lives,” said Alex Mari­akakis, lead au­thor of the pa­per on the app.

The app works with a 3-D printed viewer re­sem­bling the Google Card­board VR head­set, and a pair of pa­per glasses to cal­i­brate col­ors. The goal is for the app to work on its own with­out ac­ces­sories.

The find­ings will be pre­sented dur­ing Ubi­comp 2017, a con­fer­ence hosted by the As­so­ci­a­tion for Com­puter Ma­chin­ery, that looks at com­put­ing that can oc­cur us­ing any de­vice, in any lo­ca­tion, and in any for­mat.

Early screen­ing for pan­cre­atic can­cer is crit­i­cal, since it has one of the low­est sur­vival rates among all can­cers. Ac­cord­ing to the Amer­i­can Can­cer So­ci­ety, pan­cre­atic can­cer has the low­est sur­vival rate at 8%.

“The hope is that if peo­ple can do this sim­ple test once a month — in the pri­vacy of their own homes — some might catch the dis­ease early.”

Alex Mari­akakis, lead au­thor of the pa­per de­tail­ing the app

DEN­NIS WISE, UNIVER­SITY OF WASH­ING­TON

Bil­iScreen box helps de­tect signs of jaun­dice in the eye.

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