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Cytophone Detects Melanoma Blood Cancer With 96% Accuracy

Cytophone is a non invasive device that detects and then kills melanoma cells traveling in the blood with ninety six (96) percent accuracy. It was developed by the National Cancer Institute (NCI).


The Cytophone uses laser beams and sound waves to scan circulating blood for melanoma cells. It does not require any needles or blood draws and can scan a person’s entire volume of blood—about 5 liters—in a matter of hours. It can detect a single cancer cell in a liter of blood, making it about a thousand times more sensitive than existing technologies.


Cytophone: Significant Upgrade In Blood Cancer Analysis

Currently, melanoma testing is done with liquid biopsies to detect and analyze circulating tumor cells. Cancer cells are not always anchored to a tumor—some break away and float freely through the bloodstream. A vial of blood is collected from the patient and analyzed. The problem with this technique, is that removing them from the body can alter the cell and affect the accuracy of the analysis.



In contrast, Cytophone detects cancer cells while they’re inside the patient’s body. The device works by delivering short laser pulses to blood vessels under the skin of the person’s hand while their hand is gently fixed in a customized holder.


As circulating melanoma cells pass through the laser beams, the pigment inside them gets heated up, resulting in sound waves that are detectable by an ultrasound transducer.




Cytophone: Test Results

This device was tested on 28 volunteers. Eighteen participants were cancer free and the other 10 had melanoma cancer..

No signals from cancer cells were detected in the healthy volunteers. The participants reported no pain or skin changes.


Next, the team tested the machine on the 10 people with melanoma to confirm that it could find circulating cancer cells. The Cytophone found cancer in 9 of 10 patients.


In addition to detection, the device also killed melanoma cancer cells. When melanoma cells are heated by laser beams, tiny bubbles form around the pigment proteins inside the cells. As these bubbles rapidly expand, they can physically destroy the cells.


In lab tests, one hour of laser beam exposure reduced the amount of tumor cells in blood samples collected from patients. This reduction amount varied from patient to patient. However, in one patient, the reduction was 11-fold.

Cancer cells can travel and form new tumors in other parts of the body. Thus, destroying blood cancer cells could reduce the risk of the cancer spreading.


Cytophone: Effective Screening Tool

The Cytophone can also be very useful as an effective screening tool. When detection comes early, the cure rate is higher. With early detection, the patient can then go on to receive a full body skin exam by a dermatologist.


Also, early detection makes patients worry that their cancer could be spreading. The noninvasive testing method by the Cytophone makes it easier to track potential spread of the cancer.

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