University of Missouri, Columbia, US, biomedical engineering and dermatology associate professor John Viator has developed a new medical diagnostic device to speed up the detection of deadly metastatic melanomas.

The melanoma detection device, the size of a typical desktop printer, was the outcome of more than five years of research and development at the university’s Christopher S. Bond Life Sciences Center.

Partially funded by a $33,000 research grant from the American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery (ASLMS), the new device is expected to be available for use to diagnose and treat melanomas before they get to advanced stages, pending regulatory approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The new photoacoustic melanoma detection device delivers laser light into enriched blood cell samples consisting of millions of white blood cells and possibly cancer cells for the immediate detection of melanoma cells.

Using the new technique, the cell samples are separated into discrete small droplets for scanning and detection of both melanoma and non-melanoma cancer cells. The droplets, which produce photoacoustic waves, contain cancer cells and are separated for further examination.

The new device is expected to ensure early detection of melanomas by spotting circulating tumour cells in the blood.

The American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery aims to improve patient care by advancing biomedical application of lasers and related technology worldwide.

Image: Melanoma in skin biopsy with H&E stain. Photo: KGH.