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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NeuTigers: edge AI in healthcare
What is edge AI?
Edge AI is essentially a combination of edge computing and artificial intelligence. Algorithms are processed locally - directly on a mobile device or server - rather than in the cloud. This reduces cost, computing power and energy requirements. There are also claims that edge AI is so fast it is possible to reach near real-time analytics.
Edge AI devices include smart speakers, smart phones, laptops, robots, self-driven cars, drones, and surveillance cameras that use video analytics.
Who is NeuTigers?
NeuTigers is a spin-off company from Princeton University, formed in 2018 to apply edge AI and machine learning to solve challenges in healthcare, energy, productivity, and security.
With offices in Princeton, NJ, the company is based at one of the top AI accelerator programs of FutureLabs in New York, and has also established a subsidiary in Nice, France.
How is NeuTigers applying edge AI to healthcare?
The NeuTigers AI Technology Stack uses deep neural networks that mimic how the human brain perceives and interprets the world. The company has developed the StarDeepTM Smart Health Platform for health monitoring and biomedical imaging, to improve the accuracy and speed of diagnosing diseases.
NeuTigers say the platform has the potential to monitor and screen for thousands of conditions, when used in combination with medical devices and smart sensors already deployed in healthcare settings.
Are there any real world examples?
In January NeuTigers launched CovidDeep, a tool that predicts COVID-19 with more than 90% accuracy, using physiological data from a wristband along with blood pressure and blood oxygen readings. It then analyses the data and gives a prediction within two minutes.
This week NeuTigers announced a new study to detect the early signs of complications with sickle cell anaemia. Conducted at a hospital in Paris, the research will begin by looking at changes to skin response, heart beat, sleep and temperature to predict an acute episode of sickle cell anaemia, and how this impacts on the patients’ disease conditions and quality of life.
The second phase of the project is to expand with prospective studies across different sites in EU, Africa and the US to explore the models' accuracy and clinical effectiveness.
Adel Laoui, CEO and founder of NeuTigers, says: “The best way to deal with a crisis is to avoid it happening in the first place. We are now entering a new era where medical early warning systems have become a reality.
“We are excited at the possibility of deploying a technology that can save lives of patients dealing with sickle cell anaemia. The potential of the StarDeep platform to dramatically improve patient outcomes while slashing some of the highest costs of healthcare makes it one of the most exciting developments in preventative personal medicine.”