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Peek-a-Boo ... It Sees Cancer Cells

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Finding cancer cells before they have a chance to form into tumors is often critical to patients' survival. Researchers at the University of Missouri led by John Viator have developed a new way to search for cancer cells in a patient's blood sample using photoacoustics, reports MedicalXpress. Viator says the device provides the earliest detection of aggressive melanoma cancers to date. It shines a laser light into a blood sample, and the melanin inside any cancer cells that may be present absorbs the light. The cells then expand and become prominently visible to researchers, MedicalXpress says. Viator likens the process to watching an eight-lane highway full of white compact cars and being able to spot the black 18-wheeler truck in their midst. Viator signed a commercialization license to offer the device for testing to other researchers, and he's preparing to submit the device to FDA for approval for clinical use, MedicalXpress adds. If approved, the device would be about the size of a desktop printer, and cost less than the MRIs and CT scans doctors currently use to detect melanoma, as well as being able to diagnose the disease much earlier than those methods can.

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