Scientists develop device to monitor tumor growth under the skin

  • The current methods of measuring cancerous tumors have limitations.
  • A team of researchers of Stanford University has developed a wearable device that can measure the size of tumors under the skin of mice.
  • Researchers believe that their breakthrough technology could provide a novel method of testing potential cancer treatments, and could eventually affect cancer treatment in the near future.

In the last few several years the wearable devices for health and fitness monitoringTrusted Source have become popular. While smartwatches which monitor your activity levels and heart rate are now more popular, scientists have created wearable devices that monitor the levels of glucose, breathing ratesTrusted Source as well as epileptic seizuresTrusted Source..

Researchers at Stanford University have created a tiny wearable device capable measuring changes in the size of tumors that are cancerous. tumors in the skin.

A study that evaluated this latest device with a mouse was published recently in Science Advances.

What are the most commonly used methods of measuring tumors?

If cells within your body’s tissues split and expand in a way that is not normal then a tumor could develop. There are many types of cancerous tumors. A benign tumor is known as benign, while cancerous tumors are known as malignant tumor.

When a cancer diagnosis is made the doctor will determine what size the tumor is. The doctor will keep measuring the size of the tumor throughout the duration of cancer treatmentTrusted Source to determine if the tumor shrinks or grows. Doctors also consider the size of the tumor to determine the stage that the tumor is located in.

Traditionally, doctors use diagnostic imagingTrusted Source that includes radiographs (x-rays), CT (computed tomography) and MRI (magnetic image) scans to assess the size of tumors within the body. The doctor can also utilize the CaliperTrusted Source to determine the size of the size of a tumor which is located situated on top or beneath the skin.

The measurement of tumor size is essential for research into innovative cancer treatments through assessing the effectiveness of possible treatments for cancer in animals.

“Current methods to detect tumor regression or progression methods, like caliper and imaging-based tests, require substantial human intervention, and aren’t as effective in terms of time and length-scale dimensions.” Dr. Alex Abramson, first author of this study, an assistant professor in the biomolecular and chemical Engineering department of The Georgia Institute of Technology as well as a postdoc in the laboratory of Zhenan Bao from Stanford University’s Stanford School of Engineering, explained to Medical News Today.

“Often these measurements are only able to be done every couple of days because of the labor and expenses associated with these methods,” he added.

A brand new method to measure the growth of tumors

Also known as FAST — “Flexible Autonomous Sensor measuring Tumors” -the wearable device created by Dr. Abramson and his team is made up of an elastic skin-like membrane of polymer covered with gold circuitry. The sensor is affixed to the skin over the area where cancerous tumors are at present. It also comes with a tiny electronic “backpack” which houses the battery.

However, the device can only detect tumors that are cancerous but not benign tumors. source.

When the tumor increases and shrinks the tumor, its sensor expands or contracts with it. The sensor measures the amount of stress the sensor is under. The data is transmitted via a cell phone application, which doctors are able to access both the historical and live measurements.

Based on Dr. Abramson, the wearable sensor is able to automate the entire procedure of measuring the regression in tumor volume which means that a physician could conduct measurements continuously, without extra cost or effort.

“It can be the only tool that provides real-time analysis of the regression of tumors in the vivo.”
– — Dr. Alex Abramson

In addition Abramson also said that Dr. Abramson said the device has an resolution that is 10, millimeters.. “That resolution is about the size of the size of a single cellsTrusted Source,” he explained.

“This instrument allows us to identify the reaction of a tumor any given drug within the first few hours following the treatment’s initiation. We are hoping that it will help us better understand the effects of short-term use of chemotherapy on tumors, and provide healthcare professionals and researchers with an easier method of screening the potential of drugs to be used as therapies in the near future,” he told MNT..

Since the researchers used the mouse model in this study the researcher the researcher Dr. Abramson said the team is working to bring the device to a clinical environment. At present, researchers could build the device by following the directions from their study.

“The sensor currently costs around $60 to manufacture per person. However, mass production could bring cost down substantially,” he added. “It costs about a penny each day to run.”

In the future, as they develop this device the Dr. Abramson stated they plan to examine the device on additional cancerous models.

“This will allow us understand the relation between the tumor’s short-term and longer-term reactions to a particular drug. In the long run, this knowledge will assist us in choosing the most effective treatment regimens and dosages for a particular type of tumor,” ehe said.

Experts in tumor imaging comment on the issue.

MNT also talked to Dr. Anton Bilchik, surgical oncologist and division chair of general surgery at Providence Saint John’s Health Center and the chief of general surgery within Saint John’s Cancer Institute in Santa Monica, CA, about the wearable device. He described the research as “very interesting” because it is crucial to create new methods and technologies to assess the tumor’s response.

“This is a non-invasive device that could be able to assess the responses to treatment without the draw of blood or having to undergo additional scanning. The main issue is that it’s largely research-based. The studies were conducted using the mouse model. Therefore, the only thing we can conclude in the moment is that this research is fascinating and is certainly relevant to the issues we do every day and that’s to assess the growth of tumors as well as the response to treatment,” he said.

Dr. Richard Reitherman, medical director of breast imaging at MemorialCare Breast Center located at Orange Coast Medical Center in Fountain Valley, CA, was also impressed by the study because the wearable device could be able to monitor the various parameters it is able to measure and the results showed that they were in line with the final pathological results.

“That’s known as concordance in medical practice,” he detailed. “In this way, X matches Y. Therefore, the results agreed to the pathology that was determined. And pathology is the ultimate judge of how large tumors are and how they’ve responded to treatment.”

In the future, for this kind of research, Professor. Bilchik stressed the need for further research regarding this kind of technology.

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