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[IN] HEA MTC EDU HED
TO HEALTH, MEDICAL, AND NATIONAL EDITORS:
Duquesne Research, Supported with $1.4 Million NIH Grant, Could Lead
to Earlier Cancer Detection
PITTSBURGH, April 16, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Duquesne
University'snewly established biomedical engineering initiative has
made an immediate impact, receiving a $1.4 million, five-year grant
from the National Institutes of Health's National Cancer Institute to
detect, capture and analyze circulating melanoma cells.
BME program Director Dr. John Viator, a specialist in medical lasers,
will use this technology to analyze patients' blood samples in hopes
of detecting the spread of this potentially fatal skin cancer months
or even years before it could be identified by conventional imaging.
The focus on melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer, arose
while Viator was working on separate research to use lasers in a
non-invasive way to determine the severity of a burn injury. A
surgical oncologist asked if the method could be used to find melanoma
cells circulating in the bloodstream, as it attempts to spread
throughout the body.
The duo then developed a method of zapping a blood sample as it
circulated through a system. If even a single cell contains melanoma,
a high frequency sound wave identifies it as cancerous-leading to
possible early, personalized intervention.
"Once you capture these individual cancer cells, you can do molecular
tests, genetic tests, image them under a microscope and learn more
about that particular cancer and how it's spreading," explained
Viator. "Instead of blindly prescribing chemotherapies, if you capture
the individual cells that are spreading, you can verify the type of
melanoma that responds well to a certain drug."
Melanoma is a growing health concern across the country, with nearly
10,000 Americans predicted to die from the disease this year and more
than 76,000 new cases expected to be reported, according to the
National Cancer Institute. People younger than 35 who tan indoors
increase their risk of skin cancer by nearly 60 percent, reports the
national Centers for Disease Control; about one-third of the white
girls in high school do indoor tanning.
Duquesne's grant not only supports refining the method and studying
the basic science of melanoma and cancer biology, but will provide for
a study of cancer patients to predict and observe the disease state
and the response to therapy.
Viator will collaborate with his former colleagues from the University
of Missouri and researchers at the University of Pittsburgh in the
work, which also will involve the UPMC Hillman Cancer Center. "It was
very fortunate for me to come to Duquesne and have one of the leading
melanoma groups here in the same city," he said. "This focus will
bring a whole new aspect to their research.
"The NIH grant was reviewed by peer scientists and awarded based on
the outstanding resources at Duquesne and Pittsburgh," said Viator.
"This award shows that Duquesne University and the biomedical
engineering program is already having great impact in improving human
Duquesne University Founded in 1878, Duquesne is consistently ranked
among the nation's top Catholic research universities for its
award-winning faculty and tradition of academic excellence. Duquesne,
a campus of more than 10,000 graduate and undergraduate students, has
been nationally recognized for its academic programs, community
service and commitment to sustainability. www.duq.edu.
SOURCE Duquesne University
/CONTACT: Rose Ravasio, 412.396.6051, cell 412.818.0234; or Karen Ferrick-Roman, 412.396.1154, cell 412.736.1877
/Web Site: http://www.duq.edu
CO: Duquesne University
IN: HEA MTC EDU HED
-- DC06797 --
0000 04/16/2014 15:48:00 EDT http://www.prnewswire.com
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