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Listening for Cancer Cells 74

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the sorry-to-hear-that dept.
Roland Piquepaille writes "According to researchers at the University of Missouri-Columbia, it's now possible to detect skin cancer cells present in blood samples by listening to the sound of melanoma cells. The scientists have used a method named photoacoustic detection, which uses a laser to make cells vibrate and ultrasound techniques to pick the sound of cancerous cells. This technique is so precise that it's possible to identify the spread of cancer even if there are only ten melanoma cells in a blood sample. Still, large clinical tests must be done before this method can be widely used."
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Listening for Cancer Cells

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    So the editors won't listen to the readers to stop posting Roland's crap, can we at least have a feature to filter him and other annoying submitters out please?
    Suck it Roland. Suck it long, and suck it hard.
    • Did you even read the article? It seemed to be from a reputable source, reporting current, important information of interest not only to /.'ers but to the world community. The article was concise, reasonably well written and dealt not with some incredibly distant possible technology but rather with a technology which could very soon be in routine use in oncology centers around the world.

      I don't care if Roland Piquepaille is a shameless whore, trying to drive hits and business to his website (although I d

    • by oneiros27 (46144)
      At least he's linking to the real source these days, as opposed to some summary on his site.

      He also doesn't account for the high percentage of total stories that he used to.
    • by stinerman (812158)
      Whatever happened to the *beatles-beatles* guy?
  • by ackthpt (218170) * on Tuesday October 17, 2006 @04:20PM (#16475481) Homepage Journal

    This one's got the Rockinpneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flue

    • by thewiz (24994) * on Tuesday October 17, 2006 @04:26PM (#16475603)
      Actually, I'd bet cancer cells play the Imperial March from Star Wars.

      Plus Darth Vader breathing noises.
      • by ackthpt (218170) *

        Actually, I'd bet cancer cells play the Imperial March from Star Wars. Plus Darth Vader breathing noises.

        It would be nice if they did, then they'd really stand out. You'd know it was time to visit your oncologist if George Lucas sent you a C&D letter or showed up on your front step with a hammer

        It's great to detect the stuff spreading, but the real trick is to catch it before it does. Santa Cruz is littered with memorials to young people who've died from malinoma. Too bad some didn't take a litt

        • or showed up on your front step with a hammer

          Actually sir, you are mistaken - I believe he is holding a walkie-talkie.
      • Nah, that's for Type 2 Diabetes.
    • by Kesch (943326)
      Thank God, it wasn't Disco Fever.
    • Prediction (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      We will find that almost everyone over forty has enough cancer cells that the detection is meaningless. The real question is, "why do some people's cancer cells replicate at high rates, causing what we call cancer?'
      • why is that modded insightful? how do we know it's an insight? the tone of the statement strikes me as being plucked out of his ass.
  • by antifoidulus (807088) on Tuesday October 17, 2006 @04:20PM (#16475491) Homepage Journal
    they just tell the RIAA that they are infringing on their copyrighted "sound of cancer" Clean them up real quick :P
    • by Chacham (981)
      they just tell the RIAA that they are infringing on their copyrighted "sound of cancer" Clean them up real quick :P

      Originally, they asked the RIAA to "shoo" them away. The RIAA told them to get the H out of there, and they decided to "sue" them out of there.

      Talk about celling out.... (or is that shelling out?)
    • by Chacham (981)
      "sound of cancer"

      The cells are a-dead with the sound of ca-a-a-ancer.
    • by 8ball629 (963244)
      Why do I suspect a Weird Al song coming?

      Perhaps "The Sound of Cancer" instead of "The Sound of Silence".
    • by stunt_penguin (906223) on Tuesday October 17, 2006 @06:23PM (#16477053)
      And in the naked light I saw
      Ten rounds of chemo, maybe more

      Tumor growing without shrinking
      Pack a day, what was I thinking?

      Things are going wroooong,
      I'm loosing all my hair....
      It's not fair

      This is the sound... of Cancerrr
  • by Chacham (981)
    I don't like the sound of this; making light of an otherwise dead issue.
  • Checkup (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Raynor (925006)
    "In fact, the blood-test procedure could be performed regularly such as in screenings for high-risk patients, requiring just a small sample of blood, and its results would be almost immediate. "It could take just 30 minutes to find out if there are any circulating cancer cells," Viator said."
    With how long many medical tests take, this should have definately made it into the brief...
    • "The scientists have used a method named photoacoustic detection, which uses a laser to make cells vibrate and ultrasound techniques to pick the sound of cancerous cells." ...I wonder if that's how medical tricorders work...

      And if not, let's get this down to a portable size soon. The 23rd Century isn't far off.
  • by $RANDOMLUSER (804576) on Tuesday October 17, 2006 @04:23PM (#16475549)
    It only works on melanoma (skin cancer) cells, which answers the question of "How do they know where to shine the laser?".
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Stile 65 (722451)
      They shine a laser at a blood sample, actually. This is only useful for detecting melanoma at an early stage of metastasis, where it's made it into the blood, but hasn't yet formed any noticeable tumors in areas of the body other than the skin.
      • by TheMeuge (645043)
        I guess it's important to know... but the overall implications of such a detection method are almost nil, given the fatality rate of malignant melanoma. The idea is to catch it before the metastasis.
        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by javiator (1014907)
          This test can determine the relative number of circulating melanoma cells, so it can indicate response to treatment, remission, or relapse, so it may have value to the oncologist managing treatment of Stage IV melanoma patients. You are right, catching melanoma before metastasis is key, but for the advanced cases, this could be an important test. There's lots of work to do, but I think this is a promising technique. There certainly is a lot of clinical interest in my work. John Viator Assistant Professor
          • by TheMeuge (645043)
            Thank you for your reply. It's both surprising, as well as encouraging to see the originators of the work here on Slashdot.

            I did not mean to diminish the significance of this work. Certainly, it's a revolutionary technique... one that is likely to have an even wider impact in the future.

            And certainly any additional test is welcome in an oncologist's arsenal. I am considering specializing in Oncology, and I am anxiously watching every development... because with every new test and treatment, Oncology steps f
          • by TheLink (130905)
            Just curious - have you heard about people using dogs to detect cancer (by smelling)? How effective is that method?

    • by fastgood (714723)
      Couldn't another searchpoint for cancer cells be
      that they are the only cell types that do not die
      off regularly and naturally in the human body?

      No death, grow endlessly without aim or purpose:
      it also seems like a good definition of nihilism.

  • The sound waves produced by melanin are high-frequency ultrasounds, meaning that they cannot be heard by the human ear, even if amplified. However, researchers can pick them up with special microphones and analyze them with a computer. Other human cells do not contain pigments with the same color as melanin, so the melanin signature is easy to tell apart from other noises, said John Viator, a biomedical engineer at Missouri-Columbia and a coauthor of the Optics Letters paper.

    You know how they tag cancer cel

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Stile 65 (722451)
      TFA talks about gold nanoparticles being attached to cancer cells and used the same way. It's fairly standard for the new nanotech-based imaging modes (attach a magneto- or photo-responsive molecule to a ligand that attaches itself to a surface protein that's overexpressed in cancer cells, and see where the molecule attaches). Targeted drug delivery is being done the same way.
    • by ackthpt (218170) *

      You know how they tag cancer cells with a (radioactive) dye injection? Well, what if they could find a dye that responded in the same fashion. Suddenly, the technique could apply to a range of cancers.

      It isn't really cells responding to dye, it's that many cancers when they spread are transported by the lymphatics system. I had a Lymphangiogram, back in June 1986 and it wasn't a very fun experience, but they made insicions in the tops of both feet after injecting some coloured dye between my toes (a v

  • Hello darkness my old friend,
    I've come to hear from you again.
    Because a paitent softly weeping,
    Wants to know if cancer is creeping.
    Is the sound of the cancer coming from her brain?
    Will it remain?
    As we listen... to the sounds... of cancer.

    I've got to say, this is a pretty amazing idea. Plus it would make detecting some cancers an easy part of your yearly physical.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by LordPhantom (763327)
      Uh, yeah, like if they were detecting prostate cancer.....
      "You want me to stick the speaker WHERE????"
      • by mobby_6kl (668092)

        Uh, yeah, like if they were detecting prostate cancer.....
        "You want me to stick the speaker WHERE????"

        Reminds me of this cat [imageshack.us]
  • Hrm... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Stile 65 (722451) on Tuesday October 17, 2006 @04:25PM (#16475581) Homepage Journal
    From TFA:

    Because of melanin, melanoma is the only type of cancer whose cells will strongly absorb all wavelengths of light, emitting ultrasounds that stand out from those of other cells.

    How difficult would it be to modify melanin to produce electricity (or even sugar) from light? It sounds like it has a much wider absorption spectrum than chlorophyll, which could make things very interesting for genetic engineering and/or solar power!
    • by Stile 65 (722451)
      And of course, that's what I get for not hitting "Preview" before "Submit." Imagine a </i> after "cells."
    • by modecx (130548)
      How difficult would it be to modify melanin to produce electricity (or even sugar) from light? It sounds like it has a much wider absorption spectrum than chlorophyll, which could make things very interesting for genetic engineering and/or solar power!

      Damnit, Jim, this must be how the Breatharians do it!

      Their ability to live without eating must be offset by the fact that they will die of skin cancer before they starve!
    • You'll need to use cancer cells for your photolysis tank. Ordinary cells will die.
      • by Stile 65 (722451)
        I was thinking about engineering plants or algae to use a derivative of melanin instead of chlorophyll... or using a derivative of melanin grown with genetically engineered yeast or bacteria and extracted and purified as something to print on thin-film solar cells or something.
    • by Fëanáro (130986)
      organic substances that absorb light are a dime a dozen. Generating electricity from this light is a *lot* harder
    • That's why we took out the sun. Whole batches were lost. On a serious note, cancer is no joke in any of it's variations. I had a year of chemo to treat a brain tumor. I was one of the lucky ones. Most people that get a brain tumor are only treated for 3 months. A brain tumor is a death sentence most of the time and even when the treatment works the first time, there is a 98% chance of a recurance. Tick, tick, tick,... Way to go Mizzou! Don't let all the jokesters dampen your spirits.
  • by nizo (81281) * on Tuesday October 17, 2006 @04:27PM (#16475611) Homepage Journal
    Do they make little screaming noises or evil laughing noises?
  • lasers? (Score:2, Funny)

    by aaronots (997327)
    unfortunalely the lasers used actually cause skin cancer in the process
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by javiator (1014907)
      We actually used an optical parametric oscillator pumped by the third harmonic of an Nd:YAG laser...meaning the laser wavelength range was from 410-710 nanometers. You'd only get mutagenesis from a UV light source so we couldn't cause cancer in the sample. Besides, the laser irradiates a portion of cells separated from the blood sample. So the patient would never be exposed to the laser light. John Viator Assistant Professor, Biological Engineering and Dermatology University of Missouri, Columbia
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I'm melanoma hunting hehehehe
  • by revery (456516) <charlesNO@SPAMcac2.net> on Tuesday October 17, 2006 @04:53PM (#16475993) Homepage
    Apparently cancer cells sound very much like the Starland Vocal Band [wikipedia.org] and can frequently be heard singing "Afternoon Delight" while carrying out their destructive task.

    Which is just one more good reason to eradicate cancer once and for all...
  • by fahrbot-bot (874524) on Tuesday October 17, 2006 @05:01PM (#16476111)
    • Luke: How was your chemotherapy treatment?
    • Obi-Wan: It's as if millions of cancer cells suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced.
  • I realize that the summary doesn't link to Roland's blog this time, but any Firefox users that want to hide his submissions can use this Greasemonkey script: http://userscripts.org/scripts/show/5738 [userscripts.org]
  • As a basal cell carcinoma patient I stand a greater risk of developing a melanoma in the future. It is nice to hear that new tests and treatments are being developed which could save lives.

    I am paying for a lifetime of fun in the sun. This month I had Mohs [wikipedia.org] surgery for a deep rooted basal cell cancer on my nose, which left a nice crater, and will receive skin grafts in a few weeks to make me handsome again. But this is a cake walk compared to melanoma.

    Protect your skin.

    • by javiator (1014907)
      I'm glad you're doing well. We are also working on a method to more precisely define basal cell carcinoma borders so that when a patient needs such a lesion removed, we can preserve as much healthy skin as possible.
      John Viator
      Assistant Professor
      Biological Engineering and Dermatology
      University of Missouri, Columbia
      • by fuego451 (958976)

        We are also working on a method to more precisely define basal cell carcinoma borders.

        Well, this is good news as well. I have some pretty gnarly scars on both shoulders from excision, burn and scrape removals of BCC. Not a big deal to most men, probably, but I can see where many women and some men might be upset with the result of EBS. On the other hand, not even I can see the scar from the excision of the basal cell cyst under my right eye.

        Being a neighbor, you may have heard of my doctor for the Mohs

        • by javiator (1014907)
          I moved here two years ago from nearly a lifetime on the west coast, most recently Portland, Oregon. I love Missouri and the midwest. In fact, I don't think I would have come upon this area of research if I hadn't been at the University of Missouri. The spirit of collaboration is so great here, I routinely work with people in the College of Agriculture, Engineering, Arts and Sciences, Veterinary Medicine, and School of Medicine. It's a great environment and I think the openness and friendliness of the p
  • If it can make cancer cells vibrate and the rest not.. can a vibration strong enough kill them?

    There was an allegedly "quack" treatment of cancer and bacteria revolving around this technique several decades ago.

    Now it suddenly resurfaces... You can't stop science with misinformation and lawyers can you...
  • That's the sound of vapour-ware my friend!

If you hype something and it succeeds, you're a genius -- it wasn't a hype. If you hype it and it fails, then it was just a hype. -- Neil Bogart

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