Stage 3: The sample then passes in a region where microscopically small amounts of the detection antibody have been deposited. These antibodies have a fluorescent tag and similar to the antibodies within our body, they recognize the disease marker and attach to it within the sample. Only 70 picoliters (a volume one million times smaller than a tear) of these antibodies are used, making their dissolution in the passing sample extremely fast and efficient.

Stage 4: The most critical stage is called the “reaction chamber,” and it measures 30 micrometers in width and 20 micrometers in depth, roughly the diameter of a strand of human hair. Similar to a common pregnancy test, in this stage the disease marker that was previously tagged is captured on the surface of the chamber. By shining a focused beam of red light, the tagged disease markers can be viewed using a portable sensor device that contains a chip similar to those used by digital cameras, although this one is much more sensitive. Based on the amount of light detected, medical professionals can visually confirm the strength of the disease marker in the sample to determine the next course of treatment.Stage 5: Less a stage and more a part of the entire process is the capillary pump. The capillary pump, which has a depth of 180 micrometers, contains an intricate set of microstructures, the job of which is to pump the sample through the device for as long as needed and at a regular flow rate, just like the human heart. This pump makes the test accurate, portable, and simple to use. IBM scientists have developed a library of capillary pumps so that tests needing a variety of sample volumes or test times can still be done without having to re-engineer the entire chip.

IBM scientists designed the chip with flexibility in mind in both its form and uses. Due to its small size, the chip can be embedded in several types of form factors, depending on the application, including a credit card, a pen, or something similar to a pregnancy test. Besides diagnosing diseases, the test is also flexible enough to test for chemical and biohazards.

For more information, visit http://info.hotims.com/28050-122.

Handheld Melanoma Detector

Electro-Optical Sciences (EOS) of Irvington, NY, has created MelaFind®, a computerized handheld diagnostic device for non-invasive early detection of malignant melanoma, which could be used by a doctor or nurse while a patient is still in the office. The EOS technology has been applied to the detection of early melanoma, the early detection of tooth decay, for chronic wound management, and it has potential applications for the early detection of other cancers.

EOS designed MelaFind to assist in the evaluation of pigmented skin lesions, including atypical moles, which have one or more characteristics of melanoma, before a decision to biopsy has been made. MelaFind acquires and displays multispectral (from blue to near-infrared) digital images of pigmented skin lesions and uses automatic image analysis and statistical pattern recognition to help identify lesions to be considered for biopsy to rule out melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.

The MelaFind system consists of a handheld imaging device comprised of several components:

  • an illuminator that shines light of 10 different specific wavelengths, including near infrared bands;
  • a lens system composed of nine elements that creates images of the light reflected from the lesions;
  • a photon (light) sensor; and
  • an image processor employing proprietary algorithms to extract many discrete characteristics or features from the images.

The “brains” of the MelaFind system are mathematical algorithms that distinguish melanoma from non-melanoma by comparing the lesions’ features with the characteristics of the benign and malignant lesions stored in a proprietary MelaFind database.

EOS submitted a Premarket Approval (PMA) application for MelaFind to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in June 2009. The company has conducted a prospective clinical study, and according to EOS, for all subgroups analyzed, the sensitivity of MelaFind was greater than 95%, and MelaFind specificity was statistically significantly higher than that of study clinicians.

For more information, visit http://info.hotims.com/28050-123.

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