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Hand-held unit to detect cancer in poorer countries
Date:8/26/2011

EAST LANSING, Mich. An engineering researcher and a global health expert from Michigan State University are working on bringing a low-cost, hand-held device to nations with limited resources to help physicians detect and diagnose cancer.

Syed Hashsham, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at MSU, is developing the Gene-Z device, which is operated using an iPod Touch or Android-based tablet and performs genetic analysis on microRNAs and other genetic markers. MicroRNAs are single-stranded molecules that regulate genes; changes in certain microRNAs have been linked to cancer and other health-related issues.

He is working with Reza Nassiri, director of MSU's Institute of International Health and an associate dean in the College of Osteopathic Medicine, on the medical capabilities for the device and establishing connections with physicians worldwide.

Cancer is emerging as a leading cause of death in underdeveloped and developing countries where resources for cancer screening are almost non-existent, Nassiri said.

"Until now, little effort has been concentrated on moving cancer detection to global health settings in resource-poor countries," he said. "Early cancer detection in these countries may lead to affordable management of cancers with the aid of new screening and diagnostic technologies that can overcome global health care disparities."

Hashsham demonstrated the potential of the Gene-Z at the National Institutes of Health's first Cancer Detection and Diagnostics Conference. The conference, held recently in Bethesda, Md., was sponsored by the Fogarty International Center and the National Cancer Institute.

"Gene-Z has the capability to screen for established markers of cancer at extremely low costs in the field," Hashsham said. "Because it is a hand-held device operated by a battery and chargeable by solar energy, it is extremely useful in limited-resource settings."

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Contact: Jason Cody
codyja@msu.edu
517-432-0924
Michigan State University
Source:Eurekalert

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