The year leading up to my diagnosis with multiple myeloma (blood cancer), more about I felt awful. Finally at the end of the year I went into the clinic, explained how I wasn’t well and after some discussion that it may just be stress, a blood test was taken. In January, I was told that I had anemia (common blood disorder where you have low red blood cell count), but that the cause was unknown so further blood and urine tests were done.
It was a pretty extensive procedure and it would have been great if there could have been a quicker way to detect my cancer through a simple blood test or some type of ultrasound device. Well, that possibility may occur in the not-to-distant future.
Dr. Michael Kolios, a physicist at Ryerson University in Toronto, is researching a device that will enable him to detect cancer cells in the blood. Thanks to an Innovation grant from the Canadian Cancer Society, he is conducting research on how to design and test the device.
According to the Canadian Cancer Society press release:
Using a customized microscope that combines ultrasound and laser technology, Dr Kolios will eavesdrop on the sounds of cells by firing ultrasound and laser waves at drops of a patient’s blood. When hit with laser light, the cells produce a high-frequency squeal allowing researchers to take pictures of the sound waves and create sound profiles for different cells in the blood.
The group will then test the technique on cells inside the body by running the device over superficial veins, akin to the fictional tricorder used in the TV series Star Trek. The challenge is to distinguish the sounds of cancer cells from the normal cells, which will be done using a series of very complex calculations.
Dr Kolios and his colleagues will be the first to use a laser to create sound waves and to use very high frequency ultrasound detection. Combined together, these innovations provide greater sensitivity and specificity for detecting abnormal cells.
Not only is Dr. Kolios interested in developing a device that can detect blood cancer at an early stage, but he is also want to improve the quality of life of people like me going through chemo treatment. Ultrasound imagery could be used in the future to reduce wait times while determining how cancer cells responded to chemotherapy. That could be especially beneficial when you consider the various side effects associated with radiation therapy.
I’m really excited for this research and I’m hopeful it will be successful in changing lives of those affected with cancer in a positive manner.
For further information, see the CTV News report.