An implant that can detect cancer in the body and produce a small artificial mole as an early warning sign has been developed by Swiss researchers from ETH Zurich university.
The implant, which would be placed under the skin, would monitor the body for level of calcium, which sky rockets during the presence of cancer, The Telegraph reported. The ETH Zurich scientists said the implant can detect the presence of prostate, lung, colon, and breast cancer at its earliest tumor developments.
When the calcium levels reach a certain point, the implant responds by creating an artificial brown mole, allowing patients and doctors to catch the cancer in its earliest stages, the BBC News reported.
In the ETH Zurich study, published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, the implant was able to detect the high calcium levels in the four cancers as well as kidney failure, the BBC News reported.
“Early detection increases the chance of survival significantly,” said Martin Fussenegger, a biosystems science and engineering professor at ETH Zurich. “Nowadays, people generally go to the doctor only when the tumor begins to cause problems. Unfortunately, by that point it is often too late.”
“It is intended primarily for self-monitoring, making it very cost effective. This regular check could be carried out by their doctor,” Fussenegger added.
According to the National Cancer Institute, there were an estimated 1.6 million new cancer cases diagnosed in the United States in 2016 with 595,690 people dying from the disease. The institute noted that about 39.6 percent of men and women will be diagnosed with cancer at some point during their lifetimes, based on 2010-2012 data.
“Early enough diagnosis during the asymptomatic phase of a developing medical condition represents the key to prevention and successful therapy,” researchers said in a discussion portion of the Science Translational Medicine study.
“In conclusion, the present work provides an important proof of concept of this new diagnostic strategy, demonstrating the feasibility of using engineered cell–based biomedical tattoos for surveillance and potential detection of asymptomatic cancers based on mild hypercalcemia,” the study continued.
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