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Identifying Skin Cancer With Light

Duke University scientists have been successfully testing a new laser system they developed to identify cancerous skin moles. Two lasers in the system are used to identify the presence of eumelanin in biopsy slices and a future version of the device may work directly without having to sample the mole. According to an article in Science Translational Medicine, “the ratio of eumelanin to pheomelanin captured all investigated melanomas but excluded three-quarters of dysplastic nevi and all benign dermal nevi.” From the press release:

The tool probes skin cells using two lasers to pump small amounts of energy, less than that of a laser pointer, into a suspicious mole. Scientists analyze the way the energy redistributes in the skin cells to pinpoint the microscopic locations of different skin pigments.

The Duke team imaged 42 skin slices with the new tool. The images show that melanomas tend to have more eumelanin, a kind of skin pigment, than healthy tissue. Using the amount of eumelanin as a diagnostic criterion, the team used the tool to correctly identify all eleven melanoma samples in the study.

The technique will be further tested using thousands of archived skin slices. Studying old samples will verify whether the new technique can identify changes in moles that eventually did become cancerous.


Malignant melanoma under the new laser light. Clear deposits of eumelanin (red) appear in unhealthy tissue.

Press release: Lasers ID Deadly Skin Cancer Better than Doctors …

Abstract in Science Translational Medicine: Pump-Probe Imaging Differentiates Melanoma from Melanocytic Nevi

Flashback: Diagnosing Skin Cancers with Light, Not Scalpels

*This blog post was originally published at Medgadget*

Disease Detected In Exhaled Breath?

A new sensor developed at Stony Brook University may become a clinically useful tool for detecting disease biomarkers in breath. The nanoprobe-based technology is currently able to detect acetone, but should be modifiable to spot other compounds.

From the study abstract:

This paper describes a sensor nanotechnology suitable for non-invasive monitoring of a signaling gas, such as acetone, in exhaled breath. This is a nanomedicine tool comprised of a selective acetone nanoprobe working on the principle of ferroelectric poling sensing, and a microelectronics circuit for comparing the actual sensor signal to a predetermined threshold value, displaying the result using LED signals. This on/off type non-invasive diagnostics platform technology is based on nanotechnology, gives a fast response, it is simple to operate and inexpensive to manufacture, and may truly revolutionize personalized medicine.

Full story: New Sensor Nanotechnology Developed by Stony Brook University Researchers Simplifies Disease Detection…

Abstract in Sensor Letters: Nanosensor Device for Breath Acetone Detection

*This blog post was originally published at Medgadget*

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