Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Smartphone Device Detects Cancer In an Hour

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the can't-wait-for-my-itricorder dept.

Handhelds 69

kkleiner writes "Scientists at the Center for Systems Biology at Massachusetts General Hospital have integrated a microNMR device that accurately detects cancer cells and integrates with a smartphone (abstract). Though just a prototype, this device enables a clinician to extract small amounts of cells from a mass inside of a patient, analyze the sample on the spot, acquire the results in an hour, and pass the results to other clinicians and into medical records rapidly. How much does the device cost to make? $200. Seriously, smartphones just got their own Samuel L. Jackson-esque wallet." Reader Stoobalou points out other cancer-related news that Norwegian researchers have found a group of genes that increase a person's risk to develop lung cancer.

cancel ×

69 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Wrong recipient (2)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 3 years ago | (#35456028)

Seriously, smartphones just got their own Samuel L. Jackson-esque wallet

Actually, in my book it's the programmer(s) who deserve that wallet. Seriously, they probably just saved a few people's lives by writing good software. How many of us can claim that?

Re:Wrong recipient (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#35456164)

There appears to be a fairly significant engineering component to this as well: the "MicroNMR" is a separate device, that uses some sort of protein-binding ferrous nanoparticles to allow NRM imaging without the usual Big Serious Apparatus.

Presumably the signal processing guys who take the output from that device and beat it into something useful get the other half of the credit. The "smartphone" angle appears to just involve using the smartphone as a more or less dumb modem(unlike, say, some of the "low cost field microscope" designs that use cheap plastic or fluid optics to mate with a cellphone camera and then transmit images or do image processing onboard...)

The smartphone prototyping is certainly cute, and would work; but I would fairly strongly suspect that(with the costs of GSM modules in modest bulk being ~$50, falling sharply with number purchased) that any final product is going to skip the FDA-Approval-compromising prospect of including a chunk of un-audited consumer software that can be changed every ten minutes at the whim of the telco or manufacturer in the chain, and just integrate a cell modem...

Re:Wrong recipient (2)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 3 years ago | (#35456436)

Yes. This is a totally bizarre way to do things. If indeed the 'microMRI' device (which is the heart of the system) works as advertised you have a golden device without the dippy smartphone angle. You can take your magical results and modem them into another computer, to an EMR, to a consultant, to Twitter if you felt like it. The TFA also implies (but does not explicity state) that this device works on many, if not all tumors.

That's Holy Grail level stuff.

Color me jaded and cynical as usual, but pics or GTFO.

Re:Wrong recipient (1)

Mister Whirly (964219) | more than 3 years ago | (#35456858)

You mean like the one [singularityhub.com] at the top of the front page of TFA?

Re:Wrong recipient (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 3 years ago | (#35458252)

You mean like the one [singularityhub.com] at the top of the front page of TFA?

No, I meant "show me some real data". My point being that a device that can identify most cancer cells from a fine needle aspirate is a very important discovery. The gushing of the TFA coupled with the bizarre hookup to a smartphone makes me (and the fungus dude) a bit leery of the whole concept.

Re:Wrong recipient (1)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 3 years ago | (#35456806)

The "smartphone" angle appears to just involve using the smartphone as a more or less dumb modem(unlike, say, some of the "low cost field microscope" designs that use cheap plastic or fluid optics to mate with a cellphone camera and then transmit images or do image processing onboard...)

As I read it the smartphone is a very handy way to get:
  - a powerful computer (with signal processing chips for acceleration),
  - a user interface with a high-res color display, and
  - a network connection, with
  - a good software development environment
in a small, portable, inexpensive, robust, and standardized package (with enormous economy of scale and other teams taking care of the computer platform design).

So the designers can work on the molecular science, the design of the (brilliant but probably simple) peripheral (containing just the special-purpose electronics), and the application-specific software. No building furniture with screens and embedded computers and then getting the result through medical-level approvals. The smartphone has all the general-purpose cybernetics in a can, built to telephony standards (tougher than mil) and ready to go.

Re:Wrong recipient (1)

oliverthered (187439) | more than 3 years ago | (#35461762)

and someone may want to call/email/message etc... the Dr or visa-versa.

or they may want to look xyz up on the internet... they have to know more than the patient some days at least.

Re:Wrong recipient (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 3 years ago | (#35456246)

Probably more than you think. There's avionics software, robotics software that helps rescuers find earthquake survivors in collapsed buildings, software for 911 call centers, and of course almost all medical equipment these days, like everything else, is digital.

It's possible you've written software that's helped save lives without even knowing it.

Re:Wrong recipient (1)

misexistentialist (1537887) | more than 3 years ago | (#35457530)

On the other hand, your code could have been secretly incorporated into the Earthquake Generator.

Re:Wrong recipient (1)

peragrin (659227) | more than 3 years ago | (#35457662)

rather the Earthquake Generator than Reality Distortion Field Generators. After all in order to expand apple's influence more of them have to be built. to make sure the coverage is good.

Bring it! (2)

Infonaut (96956) | more than 3 years ago | (#35456032)

Anything that helps make detecting cancer cheaper, easier, and faster is good in my book.

Re:Bring it! (1)

Kagura (843695) | more than 3 years ago | (#35456364)

No, I can't stop yellin', cuz that's how I talk!

Re:Bring it! (1)

sirrunsalot (1575073) | more than 3 years ago | (#35456504)

Agreed. Just got home from the funeral of one of the most well-rounded, energetic, and intelligent people I've been privileged to know. Cancer. I don't care if it's tethered to a Windows Phone as long as it helps.

Re:Bring it! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35457108)

God gave him* cancer for a reason!

*Assuming it was a he, you wrote "one of the most... intelligent people".

Re:Bring it! (1)

philpalm (952191) | more than 3 years ago | (#35457620)

Karma in this life or his past life might have a reason. Still there is a correlation between people who are controlling and diabetes. A lot of Mafia bosses get diabetes.... And there is a correlation between promiscious people and STDs....still supposedly "God" made some rules that we all supposedly try to follow.

Re:Bring it! (1)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | more than 3 years ago | (#35458016)

Well, typically the thing that causes cancer is proximity to carcinogenic chemicals or radiation sources. So, um, it's punishment for being a Modern Prometheus, or something, I guess.

Re:Bring it! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35463590)

Then don't look for this to become available or widely used in the industry in your lifetime. Cancer detection and treatment is a multibillion-dollar industry in the united states, and the last thing the people who run those businesses want is a cheap way to do it. They want to be able to charge you an arm and a leg, plus all the body parts they want to remove to "stop the spread". Even if this thing makes it through a 20-year long FDA approval process, the patent will be bought by some mega-corp, probably owned by a consortium of insurance companies, and even though it now costs $200 to build the device, it will still cost $15,000 to get a diagnosis using it. Plus paying every "independent contractor" health-care so-called professional that touches the device or the report or image at about $2000/hour. (Average fee for a person who touches an X-ray is $150, and he or she only has to move it across the desk, not do anything else.)

Smartphone (4, Informative)

saibot834 (1061528) | more than 3 years ago | (#35456048)

It seems an article is at least 10 times more relevant in the news, if the word "Smartphone" is in the headline. In reality, this is just a normal device which has nothing to do with calling people or surfing on the web.
If you read the abstract, you'll notice Smartphones aren't even mentioned.

Re:Smartphone (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#35456202)

In fairness, the prototype does tether to a smartphone, to use it as a cell modem for transmitting results to a remote site(or from a remote site) in real time.

However, the smartphone appears to occupy the role of simple cellular modem, and is in no way integral to the design. A dedicated cell modem, or just about any other internet connection mechanism, could conceivably have been used instead...

Re:Smartphone (1)

nowen2dot (1768088) | more than 3 years ago | (#35456204)

The abstract seems to be for a paper on the microNMR technology. However, the article elaborates on the use of the device in combination with a smartphone:

Unfortunately, modern biopsy analysis has an 84 percent accuracy rate and can take three to four days to produce results. Furthermore, tissue can degrade during transport to an external testing site and current immunohistochemistry methods can produce false positives. In their latest report, the researchers describe how they addressed these issues by connecting the microNMR to a smartphone for data analysis. This allows a clinician to extract cells from the patient and analyze them immediately rather than sending them away for testing.

Re:Smartphone (-1, Troll)

jmcbain (1233044) | more than 3 years ago | (#35456222)

It seems an article is at least 10 times more relevant in the news, if the word "Smartphone" is in the headline.

You don't need that comma between "news" and "if". Don't go crying "grammar police." If your'e an adult, you should be able to write English sentences correctly; otherwise, don't post at all.

Re:Smartphone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35456442)

Boy, you certainly sound like a fun person to be around.

Re:Smartphone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35456640)

Wow. You'd better ask your doctor to refill your anti-douche medication.

Re:Smartphone (0)

jmcbain (1233044) | more than 3 years ago | (#35456880)

You mean my anti-PhD medication? If I wanted to lessen my level of education, I would have done so a long time ago, young lad. Furthermore, don't you have a Justin Bieber song to sing along with?

Re:Smartphone (1)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 3 years ago | (#35456270)

It's relevant as it highlights how ubiquitous and cheap something so useful like this can become. Also, smart phone device also implies pocket size.

Several concepts tied up in one word.

Re:Smartphone (1)

cdrudge (68377) | more than 3 years ago | (#35457042)

Also, smart phone device also implies pocket size.

A device attached to a smart phone doesn't imply anything. For instance, many cars these days can "attach" to a smart phone (and even dumb phones) via bluetooth for some functionality.

Re:Smartphone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35459292)

A car generally isn't described as a "smart phone device."

Re:Smartphone (1)

MichaelKristopeit334 (1966808) | more than 3 years ago | (#35456440)

you will find nothing on this internet web site chat room messageboard but hypocritically ignorant marketeers pushing their lies.

slashdot = stagnated

Re:Smartphone (2)

winomonkey (983062) | more than 3 years ago | (#35456774)

While the smartphone element is very much over-hyped for those of us in the developed and connected parts of the world, it can be very significant for people who don't have the luxury of a desktop PC and high-resolution monitor in their doctor's office. Imagine a traveling physician in [insert remote area: Alaska, Appalachia, the Peruvian Andes, Subsaharan Africa, the Hindu-Kush, Siberia] that can use two very portable devices to provide a level of diagnosis otherwise unavailable in those regions without incurring otherwise expensive or time-consuming travel expenses for each patient.

Re:Smartphone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35456864)

Haven't some researchers also tried to link cancer to cell phones in the past? Wierd , Isn't it?

Seriously? (3, Insightful)

Klync (152475) | more than 3 years ago | (#35456050)

Seriously: can someone explain wtf a "Samuel L. Jackson-esque wallet" is? I know who Mr. Jackson is, and I know what a a wallet is, but I'm clearly missing something here.

Re:Seriously? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35456318)

"It's the one that says Bad Mother Fucker on it." -- Jules Winfield.

Re:Seriously? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35456526)

Seriously: can someone explain wtf a "Samuel L. Jackson-esque wallet" is? I know who Mr. Jackson is, and I know what a a wallet is, but I'm clearly missing something here.

It's from the movie Pulp Fiction, in which Samuel L. Jackson plays Jules.

(Pumpkin and Honeybunny have collected a bag full of wallets)
Jules: I want you to go in that bag, and find my wallet.
Pumpkin: Which one is it?
Jules: It's the one that says Bad Motherfucker
(The wallet is produced; a closeup shows "Bad Motherfucker" is embossed on the outside.)

Re:Seriously? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35456564)

Seriously: can someone explain wtf a "Samuel L. Jackson-esque wallet" is? I know who Mr. Jackson is, and I know what...

Say "what" again.
Say "what" again, I dare you.
I double dare you motherfucker! Say "what" one more goddamn time!

Re:Seriously? (2)

guspasho (941623) | more than 3 years ago | (#35457092)

You can tell which wallet is his because it says "Bad Ass Mother Fucker" on it. It's a Pulp Fiction reference, and a really awkwardly placed one in this summary.

What a coincidence... (2)

BiggoronSword (1135013) | more than 3 years ago | (#35456054)

A device that can cause cancer, is now able to detect it.

Re:What a coincidence... (2)

imgod2u (812837) | more than 3 years ago | (#35456228)

To smartphones! The cause of and solution to all of live's cancer.

Re:What a coincidence... (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 3 years ago | (#35456350)

There is no research whatever showing any link between smartphones and cancer. To misquote your sig, link or it isn't true.

Some keep imagining that EMF is cancer-causing. If that's so, how did my dad, who worked on the 90mv towers and 750kv poles for almost forty years, reach the age of 80 and still goes square dancing on Saturday nights, without any cancers except the skin cancers on his face caused by being out in the sun all that time?

There's not only no causation, there isn't even correlation.

I'll bet you're a climate-change denier, too. Mod parent "funny".

Re:What a coincidence... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35456688)

'My dad did this and it didn't happen, and sample size of one + personal knowledge = true in all cases!' I bet you're a climate-change fanatic [judithcurry.com] (link or it isn't true, remember?), too. Mod parent 'dumb'.

Re:What a coincidence... (1)

517714 (762276) | more than 3 years ago | (#35459020)

There is no research whatever showing any link between smartphones and cancer.

Someone didn't RTFA. There is no causal link, but apparently Scientists at the Center for Systems Biology at Massachusetts General Hospital have integrated a microNMR device that can be used with smartphones to detect cancer. I'm pretty sure that they did some research.

Re:What a coincidence... (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 3 years ago | (#35478620)

I rtfa, you misread my comment or didn't read the comment I was responding to. The GP said "A device that can cause cancer, is now able to detect it".

The false notion that EMF causes cancer is way too widespread; you even see the allegations in the news sometimes. If he were talking about chest X-rays rather than smartphones he would have had a point, but as it is, his statement is right up there with the global warming deniers, the moon landing deniers, the flat earthers, and the "aliens have landed on earth and are walking among us" crowd.

Re:What a coincidence... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35456374)

How ironic, an American who can't tell the difference between irony and coincidence.

Cut out the middleman (1)

srussia (884021) | more than 3 years ago | (#35458288)

That's why my cigarette case is already engraved "Bad Ass Mother Fucker".

that's easy I can do that (1)

electrosoccertux (874415) | more than 3 years ago | (#35456066)

just give me a device which can emit large amounts of radiation, and I'll give you a device which can tell you on the dot, when you have a significantly increased risk of developing cancer!

Re:that's easy I can do that (1)

tibit (1762298) | more than 3 years ago | (#35457954)

Yeah, because all radiation is the same. People hear the word "radiation" and the automatically assume it's bad. That's TRWTF. That's why someone had to come up with the acronym MRI. The underlying method's acronym -- NMR -- was too scary. As far as I'm concerned, if a patient is scared of an imaging procedure because its name contains the word "nuclear", then perhaps natural selection should take its course and eliminate said individual from the gene pool without meddling from marketeers.

Don't need a App (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35456188)

If your hand is bigger than your face you have cancer.

Need to find out if you have cancer? (1)

EmagGeek (574360) | more than 3 years ago | (#35456192)

There's an app for that!

A more appropriate name: (3, Funny)

Drakkenmensch (1255800) | more than 3 years ago | (#35456286)

The "Tricorder Attachment"

Star Trek? (1)

sshirley (518356) | more than 3 years ago | (#35456292)

Sounds a lot like a tricorder to me!

Entire human genome is carcinogenic! (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 3 years ago | (#35456298)

Reader Stoobalou points out other cancer-related news that Norwegian researchers have found a group of genes that increase a person's risk to develop lung cancer.

Natural selection can only work on weeding out genes that affect reproduction. So genes that kill you so slowly that the genes have passed on to the next generation will live long. Genes that trade higher reproduction success for problems in post-reproduction life will be at an advantage. When that advantage runs amok, the organism will die almost immediately after reproducing. Like salmon. So in some sense almost the entire genome is making this trade off, and one could argue that at some life span, the entire genome is carcinogenic!!!

Re:Entire human genome is carcinogenic! (1)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 3 years ago | (#35457078)

Natural selection can only work on weeding out genes that affect reproduction.

Not true.

Parents and grandparents contribute to the upbringing, support, social connections, mate selection, and other things affecting reproductive success of their descendants. Post-reproduction people also have effects on the reproductive success, wealth, and survival rate of their relatives and members of their social groups, tribes, and countrymen - who are generally far more closely related than the general run of humanity. So the health of people (and other child-caring or social beings) after childbearing continues to put selection pressure on their genomes.

Granted it's not as EXTREME as the period leading up to childbirth and as a result may take many generations to suppress or eliminate something nasty (or not be sufficient to knock it down to where law-of-small-numbers wipes it out). But it's definitely present.

Re:Entire human genome is carcinogenic! (1)

517714 (762276) | more than 3 years ago | (#35459112)

survival rate == affect reproduction. You said it yourself, "Parents and grandparents contribute to the upbringing, support, social connections, mate selection, and other things affecting reproductive success ..." (emphasis added)

STDs (1)

jimmerz28 (1928616) | more than 3 years ago | (#35456346)

Hopefully we can tune that to STDs and make it close to instant.

Re:STDs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35460584)

It's being worked on in the U.K.

http://edition.cnn.com/2010/TECH/innovation/11/09/diseases.mobile.phone/

I should really register...

Value added? (1)

ibpooks (127372) | more than 3 years ago | (#35456424)

Of course this $200 device will be $20,000 by the time it makes it through the medical industry and everyone gets their pound of flesh.

Re:Value added? (1)

spidercoz (947220) | more than 3 years ago | (#35456598)

if it's not buried under a mountain of patent lawsuits first

Re:Value added? (1)

judoguy (534886) | more than 3 years ago | (#35456610)

Of course this $200 device will be $20,000 by the time it makes it through the FDA eternal routing and everyone gets their pound of flesh.

Fixed it for you.

Re:Value added? (1)

tibit (1762298) | more than 3 years ago | (#35457988)

I think you're trolling. You can get certification to ISO 60610 quite quickly. Getting the device through the FDA can then be quite quick. If you've got the money, it can be less than a year to get it out on the market.

Wait until the vultures get hold of it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35456432)

I recently needed use of a Holter Monitor, which as far as I can tell could be made for $20, yet was charged $500 for 1 day's use. Until we sweep out the profiteers nothing in our health care system will be cheap.

Re:Wait until the vultures get hold of it (1)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 3 years ago | (#35457150)

I recently needed use of a Holter Monitor, which as far as I can tell could be made for $20, yet was charged $500 for 1 day's use. Until we sweep out the profiteers nothing in our health care system will be cheap.

I have no problem with profiteers. Once they're competing the price drops dramatically.

I DO have problem with the way the patent system and approval process gives them enough monopoly power to soak the population on the simple, obvious stuff, and enough costs on the non-obvious stuff that they HAVE to soak the population to avoid bankruptcy.

Note that glacial and expensive medical approvals,and asinine patents are the result of government, not profit-seeking.

Re:Wait until the vultures get hold of it (1)

scamper_22 (1073470) | more than 3 years ago | (#35460012)

Quick question.

Do you think that it cost $500 because there is a free market in health care products or because of insane government regulation and restrictions on market entry that make the device so costly?

app name (1)

bluie- (1172769) | more than 3 years ago | (#35457340)

The app is named, i(have)Cancer

root cause - erection (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35457372)

Seriously, I am not saying this is a bad thing, but I think that more effort should be put into stopping the root causes of different types of cancers, like banishing several food additives and so forth that have been shown to develop cancer in the long run. The chaga mushroom http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chaga_mushroom have been used where I live (northern Finland) in generations to avoid cancer and other sicknesses. It's not a cure for cancer, but it prohibits the free radicals in the body. Russians hunters have since long ago used tea made from the chaga mushroom to keep themselves health, and records show that they had lower rates of cancer.

Wikipedia: "In 1998 there was a study in Poland that demonstrated Chaga's inhibiting effects on tumor growth."

I believe that the answers to human health are found in nature. Just look at the new Brazilian spider whose bite causes a 4-hour long erection, how cool is that? So, why don't we just stop destroying our nature, just google "china pollution photos" and you'll see what I mean. The diversity in nature is starting to fail... :/ (and cannot be restored during our lifetime)

excellent (1)

token_username (1415329) | more than 3 years ago | (#35457502)

Now we have a device that causes cancer, but detects the cancer it causes. Much better.

Re:excellent (1)

monoqlith (610041) | more than 3 years ago | (#35457720)

Cell phones: The cause of, and solution to, all of life's problems. - Homer J. Simpson (kind of) [wikipedia.org]

As a sidenote, do we really need a separate Wikipedia page for *each* episode of the Simpsons?

Re:excellent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35458216)

Cell phones: The cause of, and solution to, all of life's problems. - Homer J. Simpson (kind of) [wikipedia.org]

As a sidenote, do we really need a separate Wikipedia page for *each* episode of the Simpsons?

Yes!

Catch 22 (1)

Goglu (774689) | more than 3 years ago | (#35458104)

So, now I have to get a smartphone and increase my risk of getting cancer in order to detect if I have cancer?

There is more than just "cancer" or "benign" ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35459522)

As a physician, one of the problems I see is that it will be hard for the doctor doing the testing to know that they really sampled the mass/lesion. Many tumors/benign masses can be vary in makeup from one area to another, or have only a few tumor cells spread around in between "normal" cells or fibrosis. A "benign" reading from this machine may just be due to not getting enough of the tumor / or from sampling the wrong area. Light microscopy (doing a biopsy - which can be done with relatively small needles and then looking at it under a microscope) allows a pathologist to see if it was adequately sampled or not. Sometimes you have to go back for more ... but at least you know that you need to go back to get an accurate diagnosis. Additionally, just saying "benign" is not always enough. There are many "benign" conditions that are not cancer and are not going to metastasize (spread throughout the body like cancer) that can still spread locally and require excision. Or conditions that are not cancer, but have an increased risk of becoming cancer. Light microscopy can usually tell us all of this and more. Plus, light microscopy is very cheap - just some fixatives, paraffin, and some glass slides. I know I would rather wait a day or two to have a definitive, informed diagnosis...

Check for New Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>