A new laser may speed up the diagnosis of metastatic melanoma.

The photoacoustic melanoma detection device was invented by John A. Viator, PhD, an associate professor of biomedical engineering and dermatology at the University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri.

The new device was the fruit of more than five years of research and development at the university’s Christopher S. Bond Life Sciences Center, which was funded in part by a $33,000 research grant in 2007 from the American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery (ASLMS). Development of a commercial prototype for the melanoma detection device and clinical trials are needed for FDA approval

About the size of a typical desktop printer, the device works by emitting laser light into enriched blood cell samples of millions of white blood cells and possibly cancer cells. The light is absorbed only by the melanin within the cancer cells, and generates high frequency acoustic responses that are picked up by sensors in a photoacoustic flow meter. The result is immediate detection of melanoma cells—before deadly tumors develop. Droplets that do not emit photoacoustic waves contain only white blood cells and are discarded.

“We literally listen to the cancer cells passing by,” Viator explains in a press release.

Viator will be chairing a session on photoacoustic-based detection of cancer cells on Friday, April 20 at the ASLMS 32nd Annual Conference at the Gaylord™ Palms Resort and Convention Center in Kissimmee, Florida, April 18-22, 2012.

For more information about ASLMS and its 2012 Annual Conference, visit www.aslms.org. Online registration for the ASLMS Annual Conference is now open.

Photo Caption: Fluorescence image overlaid onto a microscope image of a
captured circulating melanoma cell. The green region is fluorescence
induced in the melanin within the melanoma cell.

Source:  American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery