Researchers have created a device that uses a laser beam irradiating blood vessels.It is possible to detect tumour cells this way.
Tumours release their cells into the blood and, while the cells give indication of that the tumour is growing and spreading to other organs.Now, researchers have demonstrated their ability to use a laser interacting with the hand of a patient affected by a skin cancer in order to detect tumour cells flowing through the bloodstream.The device can improve melanoma-oriented screening one day.It may also help doctors monitor the effectiveness of their therapies or even confine the spread of the original tumour by disrupting the mobility of its cells.
Medical oncologist Klaus Pantel at the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Germany, who was not involved in the research, describes the possibility of detecting circulating cells literally through the patient's skin as fascinating.However, others warn us that there is still a lot of work needed to prove that the device can help patients with melanoma.
Most researchers working on ways for detecting circulating cancer cells (CTC) concentrate on looking for them in blood collected from a patient.In the case of people affected by advanced breast, colon or prostate cancer doctors can order a commercial CTC-counting test applied to blood samples.Still, the method is often not capable of snatching the very few cells that are released at early stages of cancers.What is more - it does not work in the case of melanoma, as its cells do not have the main surface marker used by tests for the detection of CTC.
Hoping for the improvement of other methods, a team lead by Vladimir Zharov, biomedical engineer at the University of Arkansas, Little Rock, have combined a laser with an ultrasound detector which resulted in the development of the so-called "Cytophone". The device detects tumour cells acoustically.Zharov's team have focused its device on the hand of a person suffering from melanoma for a period between 1 second and 1 hour, searching for specific signals.No CTCs were detected in the blood collected from 19 healthy volunteers.However, CTCs were expressed as visible spikes in the record among 27 out of 28 melanoma-affected patients.The device still requires numerous complex research and studies but the predicted outcome it promising.