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A real-time diagnosis for a treatable cancer
Date:6/9/2009

According to the American Cancer Society, colorectal cancer, America's third leading type of cancer, is also one of the most preventable. One-third of all colorectal cancer deaths could be avoided by simple screening, they say. But colonoscopies, though highly effective, can also be painful, and current diagnostic techniques are time-consuming and sometimes inaccurate.

Sefi Vernick, a doctoral student of the Department of Physical Electronics at Tel Aviv University, believes he has an answer that may lead to earlier diagnosis - and to saving lives. Utilizing the "lab-on-a-chip" technology first developed by his supervisor Prof. Yossi Shacham, Vernick attached a functioning miniature laboratory the size of a common computer chip to the end of the common endoscope used in colonoscopy examinations, providing a highly-accurate (and far less painful) biopsy done in real time.

"What we're talking about is taking tiny little samples from polyps as the colonoscopy is being done, and getting the answer right away," says Vernick. "This tool allows us to both visualize and remove polyps and screen for cancer in real time. It's point-of-care diagnostics - we can do it in a physician's office, which is much more convenient than a hospital visit."

"Bio"-Marks the Spot

Colorectal cancer is especially difficult to diagnose in its early stages - usually, people are in advanced stages when the cancer is discovered, and the diagnostic process itself requires the removal of entire polyps as well as a laboratory assessment that may take weeks.

Vernick's lab-on-a-chip solution works by recognizing tell-tale biomarkers that lab technicians cannot see with the naked eye. Cancer biomarkers are molecular changes detectable in the tumor or in the blood, urine, or other body fluids of cancer patients. These biomarkers are produced either by the tumor itself or by the body in response to the presence of cancer. The most commonly-us
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Contact: George Hunka
ghunka@aftau.org
212-742-9070
American Friends of Tel Aviv University
Source:Eurekalert  

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