According to a study, published in Science Advances, the scientists from the Georgia Institute of Technology and Stanford University have developed a device called FAST (Flexible Autonomous Sensor measuring Tumours), which can detect the changing size of tumors under the skin. It is ac cheap, hands-free and effective method to check the efficacy of cancer drugs. Medical experts have a lot of tools to treat cancer, but the way to detect the size of tumors found right under the skin is often difficult. The newly developed device can change the course of tumor diagnosis completely.
Flexible Autonomous Sensor measuring Tumors (FAST)
Alex Abramson, first author of the study and now an Assistant Professor at Georgia Tech, said, "In some cases, the tumours under observation must be measured by hand with calipers." The use of these metal calipers to check soft tissues is not ideal, and radiological methods cannot provide the sort of constant data required for real-time assessment. On the other hand, FAST can easily tell about any changes in the volume of tumor on the minute-timescale. Abramson said, "It is a deceptively simple design, but these inherent advantages should be very interesting to the pharmaceutical and oncological communities."
The FAST device is battery powered and automatically sends the results to a smartphone app. FAST's sensor is made up of a flexible and stretchable polymer which has a fixed layer of gold circuitry. This sensor is interlinked to a small electronic backpack developed by former post-docs and co-authors Yasser Khan and Naoji Matsuhisa. The device detects the tension on the membrane and how much it stretches and is able to send that data to a smartphone.
What does the device offer?
The scientists said that the new device provides at least three major advances. One of them is that it gives constant monitoring, because the sensor is connected to the mouse physically and stays in place during the whole experimental period. Moreover, the flexible sensor enfolds the tumour and is hence able to check changes in shape that are tough to measure with other ways. The study said, "Third, FAST is both autonomous and non-invasive. It is connected to the skin, not unlike a band-aid, battery operated and connected wirelessly."
FAST's tumor measurements are accurate to one-hundredth of a millimeter, as per the Stanford Wearable Electronics Initiative, which made the device. The FAST device costs around $60 for assembling and is reusable as well. It can become an inexpensive diagnostic tool for tumors.