Low-Cost Hand-Held Device Detects Cancer

Gene Z device analyzes MicroRNs to detect cancer in poorer countries

(RxWiki News) People living in poor countries have minimal access to basic healthcare, and sophisticated cancer tests are non-existent. Researchers are developing a device that could change that.

An engineer and global health expert have teamed up to design an inexpensive hand-held device that looks for genetic changes that can signal the presence of cancer.

Hand-held device may soon be  used to detect cancer in poorer nations.

This system, called the Gene-Z device, is used with a computer tablet to perform genetic analyses. The device looks for microRNAs and other genetic markers that can indicate the presence of disease.

Regulating genes is the job of microRNAs, and mutations (changes) in these molecules can indicate cancer or other diseases.

Syed Hashsham, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Michigan State University (MSU) is working with Reza Nassiri, director of MSU's Institute of International Health and an associate dean in the College of Osteopathic Medicine.

The team is working to refine the capabilities of the Gene-Z and connect with physicians around the world.

In developing and undeveloped countries, cancer is becoming a leading cause of death. Nassiri says this device could offer early, affordable screening that could pave the way for cost-effective disease management that will save lives.

The device, which runs on batteries that can be recharged with solar light, provides low-cost, rapid screening to detect and diagnose cancer and other illnesses.

Hashsham showed how the device works and presented its potential benefits at the National Institutes of Health's first Cancer Detection and Diagnostics Conference held recently in Bethesda, Maryland.

The device will be field tested as clinical partnerships are established around the globe.

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Review Date: 
August 30, 2011