Monday, September 5, 2011

USP develops new treatment for skin cancer

by Waldirene Biernath

Source: USP Site
IFSC Department, USP São Carlos, SP, Brazil develops a
 device  for skin cancer diagnosis and treatment
A portable device developed at USP São Carlos is in the experimental phase in diagnosing and treating skin cancer. The technology consists of using fluorescence and light patterns to detect changes in the epithelium of patients and perform the treatment against the disease. It is effective against skin cancer at an early stage. The instrument is the result of a joint work of the School of Engineering (EESC) and the Institute of Physics (IFSC).

Mardoqueu Martins da Costa, physicist and author of the research that resulted in the new unit, says that treatment for cancer detection may be accomplished in one day by aminolevulinic acid (ALA). The substance is applied as an ointment on the ill-looking area, and then, the device emits ultraviolet light in the region to make the diagnosis.

Mardoqueu says that when the red light is emitted in the sick region, it oxidizes and kills cancer cells. The method is opposed to surgery that is currently done to remove the cancer.

Source: Google image
Image of a melanoma
Although it may seem a simple treatment without complications, Mardoqueu warns that there are many variables that ensure its effectiveness: "The intensity of light, the emitted wavelength, color and illumination time are decisive for the method to work. Also, it is necessary to specify on which types of injuries the treatment can be done”, he explains.

The equipment will be distributed to over 100 municipalities in the country until the end of the year. The project received an investment of R$ 4 million from Banco Nacional de Desenvolvimento Econômico e Social (BNDES) for the production of the kit, purchase of medicines and staff training.

The treatment will be free in locations that portable device will be distributed. The distribution of treatment centers will test areas with the highest incidence of the disease, according to the project’s coordinator, Professor Vanderlei Salvador Bagnato.

joint (adjective): involving two or more people, or done by them together;
unit (noun): a small machine that does a particular job by itself, or is a part of a larger machine;
ointment (noun):  semisolid preparation (usually containing a medicine) applied externally as a remedy or for soothing an irritation;
(to) ensure (verb): to make certain that something happens or is done;
injuries (noun): physical damage done to a person or a part of their body.

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