A smartphone-based device developed by Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) investigators is a new technology that converts a smartphone into a tool for cancer diagnosis.
Dr.Ralph Weissleder, Director of the MGH Center for Systems Biology (CSB), said, "We expect that the D3 platform will enhance the breadth and depth of cancer screening in a way that is feasible and sustainable for resource limited-settings."
The device called D3 (digital diffraction diagnosis) system features an imaging module with a battery-powered LED light clipped onto the phones camera that records high resolution imaging data. The D3 system is capable of recording data more than 100,000 cells from a blood or tissue sample in a single image.
A sample of blood or tissue is labeled with microbeads that can bind to known cancer cells that can then be imaged using the phone. The microbeads are coated with antibodies that target specific cancer types. The presence of specific molecules is detected by analyzing the diffraction patterns while the shape of the beads determines how they diffract light.
A special app analyzes the image taken, quantifying the light returning from the sample and converting that into an indicator of the presence of cancer. D3 system analysis of fine-needle lymph node biopsy samples was accurately able to differentiate four patients whose lymphoma diagnosis was confirmed by conventional pathology from another four with benign lymph node enlargement.
D3 assay were available within an hour at a cost of $1.80 per assay. The price is expected to reduce with further refinement of the system.