Throat cancer detected with new fluorescent spray
Research has found that a new fluorescent throat spray could be used to detect early cases of oesophageal cancer.
It is also hoped that by spotting abnormal and cancerous cells on the oesophagus sooner, it will prevent patients from undergoing unnecessary treatment.
When sprayed on to the oesophagus, the fluorescent spray attaches itself to healthy cells, but is unable to connect to cells with cancerous properties.
Doctors are then able to identify the areas in which cancer and tumours are developing.
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If a patient is diagnosed with early stage oesophageal cancer they can then undergo radiofrequency ablation which uses an electrical current to kill the cancerous cells in the area.
Currently, initial diagnosis techniques of this strain of the disease are fairly inaccurate, often leading to patients having their oesophagus (food pipe) removed unnecessarily.
The research was jointly funded by cancer charity Cancer Research UK and the Medical Research Council (MRC) and the results have just been published in the journal Nature Medicine.
Commenting on the findings, Dr Rebecca Fitzgerald the report’s lead author from the MRC Cancer Cell Unit in Cambridge, UK, said: “Current methods to screen for oesophageal cancer are controversial – they are costly, uncomfortable for the patient and are not completely accurate.
“Our technique highlights the exact position of a developing oesophageal cancer, and how advanced it is, giving a more accurate picture.
“This could spare patients radical surgery to remove the oesophagus that can result in having to eat much smaller more regular meals and worse acid-reflux,” she added.
Meanwhile Professor Kevin Brindle, one of the researchers from Cancer Research UK’s Cambridge Research Institute, also said: “The benefit of using this dye is that it is specific, relatively cheap and is found in our normal diets so unlikely to cause any unwanted effects at the levels we use.
“We now need to test our technique in newly diagnosed patients, but it has great potential to be used with current imaging techniques to help improve treatment for oesophageal cancer.”
Dr Julie Sharp, Cancer Research UK’s senior science information manager, added: “Oesophageal cancer is one of the most difficult cancers to detect and treat, with only eight per cent of people with the disease surviving at least five years.
“We urgently need new ways to detect the cancer earlier, and this dye offers a great opportunity to treat the cancer more promptly and more successfully, potentially saving many lives a year.”
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Introducing Dosis - the AI powered dosing platform
Cloud-based platform Dosis uses AI to help patients and clinicians tailor their medication plans. Shivrat Chhabra, CEO and co-founder, tells us how it works.
When and why was Dosis founded?
Divya, my co-founder and I founded Dosis in 2017 with the purpose of creating a personalised dosing platform. We see personalisation in so many aspects of our lives, but not in the amount of medication we receive. We came across some research at the University of Louisville that personalised the dosing of a class of drugs called ESAs that are used to treat chronic anaemia. We thought, if commercialised, this could greatly benefit the healthcare industry by introducing precision medicine to drug dosing.
The research also showed that by taking this personalised approach, less drugs were needed to achieve the same or better outcomes. That meant that patients were exposed to less medication, so there was a lower likelihood of side effects. It also meant that the cost of care was reduced.
What is the Strategic Anemia Advisor?
Dosis’s flagship product, Strategic Anemia Advisor (SAA), personalises the dosing of Erythropoiesis Stimulating Agents (ESAs). ESAs are a class of drugs used to treat chronic anaemia, a common complication of chronic kidney disease.
SAA takes into account a patient’s previous ESA doses and lab levels, determines the patient’s unique response to the drug and outputs an ESA dose recommendation to keep the patient within a specified therapeutic target range. Healthcare providers use SAA as a clinical decision support tool.
What else is Dosis working on?
In the near term, we are working on releasing a personalised dosing module for IV iron, another drug that’s used in tandem with ESAs to treat chronic anaemia. We’re also working on personalising the dosing for the three drugs used to treat Mineral Bone Disorder. We’re very excited to expand our platform to these new drugs.
What are Dosis' strategic goals for the next 2-3 years?
We strongly believe that personalised dosing will be the standard of care within the next decade, and we’re honored to be a part of making that future a reality. In the next few years, we see Dosis entering partnerships with other companies that operate within value-based care environments, where tools like ours that help reduce cost while maintaining or improving outcomes are extremely useful.
What do you think AI's greatest benefits to healthcare are?
If designed well, AI in healthcare allows for a practical and usable way to deploy solutions that would not be feasible otherwise. For example, it’s possible for someone to manually solve the mathematical equations necessary to personalise drug dosing, but it is just not practical. AI in healthcare offers an exciting path forward for implementing solutions that for so long have appeared impractical or impossible.