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Scientists develop highly sensitive device to detect early stage skin cancers

CANCER DIGEST – March 9, 2024 – Scientists continue to find better ways to detect skin cancer. (See DermaSensor device.) In the journal IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering, researchers describe a new device using a low frequency x-ray that is safe for humans to detect subtle changes in cells caused by cancer. The article was published Feb. 9, 2024.

"Traditional methods for detecting skin cancer often involve expensive, time-consuming, CT, PET scans and invasive higher frequencies technologies," Dr. Shohreh Nourinovin, said in a press release. He is Postdoctoral Research Associate at Queen Mary's School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science, and the study's first author. "Our biosensor offers a non-invasive and highly efficient solution, leveraging the unique properties of THz waves – a type of radiation with lower energy than X-rays, thus safe for humans – to detect subtle changes in cell characteristics." 

In tests, the biosensor successfully differentiated between early basal cell carcinoma cells and normal skin cells with a very high degree of sensitivity and specificity, meaning the device accurately detected cancer with few false positives, and was accurate in determining cells that are normal without missing cancerous cells.

The device uses tiny, asymmetric resonators on a flexible surface, which can detect subtle changes in the properties of cells. Unlike conventional x-rays that detect differences in the speed of the ray traveling through a tissue type and traveling through a vacuum, the biosensor device uses a combination of parameters to develop a more detailed picture of the cells.

"The implications of this study extend far beyond skin cancer detection," says Dr Nourinovin. "This technology could be used for early detection of various cancers and other diseases, like Alzheimer's, with potential applications in resource-limited settings due to its portability and affordability." 

Sources: Queen Mary University of London press release.


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