Thursday, June 11, 2015

Mass General App Could Provide Faster, Cheaper Tumor Diagnoses

Dr. Terry McEnany has over 30 years of experience as a thoracic and cardiovascular surgeon. Early in his medical career, Terry McEnany, MD, completed a surgical residency at Massachusetts General Hospital (Mass General), where he also served as chief resident and a staff surgeon.

The first teaching hospital of Harvard University, Mass General has been at the forefront of medical care and research since its founding in 1811. However, not all doctors and hospitals have access to such progressive resources. Advanced screening technology is prohibitively expensive for many healthcare providers, and countless individuals in rural areas lack the resources to access specialty care. In response, a team of Mass General investigators set out to develop a smartphone-based platform which could quickly, reliably, and cost-effectively diagnose tumors.

The D3 (digital diffraction diagnosis) system simply uses a battery-powered LED light and a high-resolution camera that clips onto standard smartphones to capture images of tissue samples. The tissue samples are treated with a microbead solution that binds to known cancer-related molecules, and the patterns are then analyzed against a numerical algorithm to determine the presence of a tumor. Pilot tests revealed that the D3 system’s accuracy matched current molecular profiling techniques and cost only $1.80 per assay - a rate which is expected to improve as the system is enhanced. Future plans for development involve testing to determine the D3 platform’s ability to analyze markers of other diseases and its feasibility in rural settings and developing countries.