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Laser Printer Method Used to Detect Cancer

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PALO ALTO, Calif., April 19 -- The Scripps-PARC Institute for Advanced Biomedical Studies, which Xerox Corp.'s Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) and The Scripps Research Institute formed recently to investigate advances in the life sciences, announced today its first potential product: a system based on laser printer technology to detect cancer cells.

The institute said the fiber array scanning technology (FAST) cytometer system uses PARC's competencies in lasers, optomechanical engineering and imaging to detect cancer cells almost 1000 times faster than digital microscopy, the current gold standard. At present, the FAST cytometer can analyze such a sample in two minutes, compared with 16 to 32 hours required for digital microscopy. The key to the technology's efficiency is its wide scanning area. While digital microscopy scanning has less than a millimeter field of view in which to acquire images, the FAST cytometer has a 50-millimeter-wide field of view. High-speed scanning techniques found in laser printing enable the high scan rates.

PARC said the FAST cytometer will initially serve as a prescreening device. Once probable rare cells are identified, higher-resolution scanning can be used to create images a physician or other qualified expert would review. Cells can also be relocated for additional characterization and testing.

The technology has general applicability for other rare cell-related research topics, such as the detection of fetal cells in maternal blood and early detection of viral-infected cells.

"Our goal in creating the FAST cytometer is to enable identification of rare cells in the clinic," said Richard Bruce, director of the institute and manager of PARC's Computer Science Laboratory. "Because the FAST cytometer uses simple, robust technology and enables cost-efficient operation, we believe it could make screening for cancer or other rare cells as routine as an annual blood test."

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Apr 2004
cancer detectioncytometer systemFASfiber array scanning technologylaser printer technologyMicroscopyNews & FeaturesScripps Research Institutelasers

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