Chip offers hope for mouth cancer sufferers
 

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Chip offers hope for mouth cancer sufferers

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Chip offers hope for mouth cancer sufferers

 

Chip offers hope for mouth cancer sufferers

A new diagnostic tool to help the early detection of oral cancer has successfully been developed by researchers in America.

The US team now hope the eventual deployment of nano biochips will cut the cost of medical diagnostics and contribute significantly to the task of bringing quality health care to the world.

Eventually, dentists may be the first line of defence against oral cancers, with the ability to catch early signs of the disease in the chair.

The highly-receptive instrument, which looks similar to a toothbrush, is able to achieve extremely accurate results by lightly touching a lesion on the tongue or cheek.

Trials carried out on the nano biochip sensor showed it was 97% ‘sensitive' and 93% specific in detecting which patients had malignant or premalignant lesions – results that compared well with traditional tests.

If introduced, the brush could be used by dentists chairside with the minimally invasive technique delivering results in 15 minutes instead of several days.

It would also offer an alternative to often invasive, painful biopsies.

A larger trial involving 500 patients (including some from England) has been planned.

The new nano-bio-chip was developed professor John McDevitt and his team at Rice University in Houston, Texas and the study appears online in the journal Cancer Prevention Research.

Professor McDevitt says: ‘One of the key discoveries in this paper is to show that the miniaturised, non-invasive approach produces about the same result as the pathologists do.

‘This area of diagnostics and testing has been terribly challenging for the scientific and clinical community. Part of the problem is that there are no good tools currently available that work in a reliable way.'

He said patients with suspicious lesions, usually discovered by dentists or oral surgeons, end up getting scalpel or punch biopsies as often as every six months.

'People trained in this area don't have any trouble finding lesions. The issue is the next step – taking a chunk of someone's cheek. The heart of this paper is developing a more humane and less painful way to do that diagnosis, and our technique has shown remarkable success in early trials.'

Professor McDevitt and his researchers hope the eventual deployment of nano biochips will dramatically cut the cost of medical diagnostics and contribute significantly to the task of bringing quality health care to the world.

He adds: ‘The chips should also be able to see when an abnormality turns precancerous. You want to catch it early on, as it's transforming from pre-cancer to the earliest stages of cancer, and get it in stage one. Then the five-year survival rate is very high. Currently, most of the time, it's captured in stage three, when the survivability is very low.'

News of the technology was welcomed by chief executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter.   

Dr Carter said: ‘Mouth Cancer is a deadly and debilitating disease that would greatly benefit from such early diagnostic technology as the nano-bio-chip.

‘Currently, the best chance of beating the cancer comes from early detection, which improves survival rates to 90%.

‘Mouth cancer is a potentially fatal condition that is taking more lives each year. Without early diagnosis chances of survival plummet down to 50%.'

The study appeared online in the journal Cancer Prevention Research.. Click here to read the research.

 Posted on : Wed 7th - Apr - 2010

 

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