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NIH Awards $1.4M Grant to Duquesne University

The National Institutes of Health’s National Cancer Institute has awarded a $1.4 million, five-year grant to Duquesne University’s biomedical engineering initiative to detect, capture and analyze circulating melanoma cells.

The technology will be used to analyze patients’ blood samples in hopes of detecting the spread of this potentially fatal skin cancer. Dr. John Viator, director of the biomedical engineering program, and a colleague developed a method of zapping a blood sample as it circulated through a system. If a single cell contains melanoma, a high-frequency sound wave identifies it as cancerous – leading to a 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,” Viator said. “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.”

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