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, believes he has an answer that may lead to earlier diagnosis - and to saving lives. He utilises the lab-on-a-chip technology first developed by his supervisor Prof. Yossi Shacham and attached it to the end of a conventional endoscope.
"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," says Vernick.
Vernick's lab-on-a-chip solution works by recognizing biomarkers. 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.
With his tool, Vernick can scan up to four different biomarkers for colon cancer, an effective method for finding elusive colon cancer malignancies.
In addition to the lab-on-a-chip technology, Vernick and his fellow researchers believe they are well on the way to establish a blood test for colon cancer which, when used together with colonoscopies, offers a comprehensive package of colon cancer detection.
MEDICA.de; Source: American Friends of Tel Aviv University