Photoacoustic Detection of Metastatic Melanoma
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We in the Viator lab at the University of Missouri have invented a cell sorting apparatus that is capable of high throughput analysis of blood samples from patients at risk for metastatic melanoma. This invention is similar to flow cytometry except that we induce high frequency ultrasonic waves in pigmented melanoma cells as a result of nanosecond laser light absorption. We subsequently capture these cells for further study. We are adapting this technology for non-melanoma cancers by selective attachment of nanoparticles that act as targets for the laser. This technology serves as an early detector and monitor of metastatic disease. Currently, cancer metastasis is diagnosed by conventional imaging methods, such as CT, MRI, or PET scans. These imaging modalities require metastatic tumors to be several millimeters or more in order to show up on such scans. By this time, the metastatic tumors may be too advanced for effective therapy. Our technology detects metastatic disease when individual cells are traveling through the blood and lymph systems searching for distant organs in which to seed secondary tumors. Our laser induced ultrasonic flowmeter processes blood samples from patients, detecting metastatic disease at the single cell level. Thus, our low cost blood test can determine metastasis months or even years before current technology. Additionally, it only requires a simple blood draw from patients who have or are at risk for metastatic disease. The test is inexpensive and can be run in approximately one half hour. This method has been proven for melanoma detection and is being developed for other cancers. Potential Areas of Applications: High throughput screening for melanoma, Monitoring of melanoma patient, Isolation of melanoma cells. Patent Status: Issued Patent. Inventor(s): John A. Viator, Paul S. Dale, Devin McCormack, Kiran Bhattacharyya. This presentation was an elevator pitch at the Missouri Technology Expo 2011.