Melanoma is a malignant tumor that develops from melanocytes – pigment cells that produce melanin. In other words, it is skin cancer. Diagnosis of this disease in the early stages significantly increases the patient’s chances of complete healing. Therefore, several groups of scientists from different countries simultaneously worked on devices that could facilitate the life of doctors and increase the chances of patients making full recovery.
Good fortune has smiled upon a group of researchers from the University of McMaster in Canada who have successfully invented a portable melanoma detector. For this success, they received the prestigious Dyson Award.
The Dyson International Award was established in 2004 and is awarded annually to inventors, scientists and researchers in the fields of industrial and engineering design. The winning team receives a cash prize for the implementation and promotion of their projects. In addition to this, the university in which the team worked or studied receives £ 10,000.
In previous years, the award was given to such projects as a life jacket made of special foam, increasing in size when it enters water, an autonomous device for watering crops in arid areas, and other equally curious inventions.
To effectively recognize cancer cells in the early stages, McMaster University staff built 16 thermistors (resistors whose resistance varies with temperature) in their detector. To the place on the skin, which causes suspicion in the melanoma, apply a packet of ice, and then to the same area of skin cover the detector. The thing is that the cancer cells heat up faster than healthy cells after a sharp cooling. The device builds a heat map after a sharp cooling (“ice shock”, as the inventors call it) and, based on the data obtained, a conclusion is made about the presence or absence of melanoma.
“In the sKan detector, developers used affordable and inexpensive components. At the same time it allows very quickly and effectively to identify a melanoma in a person. Personally it seems to me that the team from Canada managed to create a truly useful device capable of saving many lives, “James Dyson, the founder of the James Dyson Award, shared with journalists.
In addition to the £ 30,000 from the Dyson Foundation, Canadian inventors also received an additional $ 40,000 for their research in various exhibitions and competitions. Looking ahead, researchers say that they are currently working on improving the technology of diagnosing skin cancer and are trying to make their device even more compact and easy to use. At the moment, scientists plan to organize full-scale clinical trials that will eventually allow them to sell their device on the market and provide it to various hospitals and clinics.