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Home News and Update Year 2010 Scientist Can Now Detect Oral Tumours Using a Brush

Scientist Can Now Detect Oral Tumours Using a Brush

Times of India
07 April 2010
Mumbai Mirror Bureau, India

John McDevitt holds the LabNow device that will look for signs of oral cancer John McDevitt holds the LabNow device that will look for signs of oral cancer
The gentle touch of a lesion on the tongue or cheek with a brush can help detect oral cancer with success rates com parable to more invasive techniques, according to preliminary studies by researchers at Rice University. The test that uses Rice’s diagnostic nano–bio–chip was found to be 97 per cent “sensitive” and 93 per cent specific in detecting which patients had malignant or premalignant cancer lesions, results that compared well with traditional tests. The study appeared in the journal Cancer Prevention Research. “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,” said John McDevitt, the Brown–Wiess Professor of Chemistry and Bioengineering at Rice. His lab developed the novel nanobio–chip technology at the heart of the device.

Oral cancer afflicts more than 3,00,000 people a year and the five–year survival rate is 60 per cent, but if cancer is detected early, that rate rises to 90 per cent.

The minimally invasive technique delivers results in 15 minutes instead of several days, as lab–based diagnostics do now; and instead of an invasive, painful biopsy, this new procedure requires just a light brush of the lesion on the cheek or tongue with an instrument that looks like a toothbrush.

The study compared results of traditional diagnostic tests with those obtained with nanobio–chips on a small sample of 52 participants, all of whom had visible oral lesions. Of those patients, 11 were diagnosed as healthy.

The chips should also be able to see when an abnormality turns cancerous.

“You want to catch it early on, as it’s transforming in to cancer, and get it in stage one. Then the five–year survival rate is very high,” he said. “Currently, most of the time, it’s captured in stage three, when the survivability is very low.”

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

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