MIT’s tiny sensor can wirelessly track tumors
Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have developed a tiny sensor that can help doctors do constant reads on a patient’s cancer.
Doctors have ways to take periodic reads on a patient’s cancer, including MRIs and tissue biopsies. But there is little way to do in-depth and consistent reads on how a therapy is working or a cancer is progressing.
Until now. Scientists at MIT’s Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research have developed a tiny sensor that can be implanted in cancerous tissue during a biopsy. The sensor then measures predetermined biomarkers and wirelessly sends data to an external device, allowing physicians to adjust and monitor therapies accordingly.
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“We wanted to make a device that would give us a chemical signal about what’s happening in the tumor,” said Michael Cima, an MIT engineering professor and a Koch Institute investigator who oversaw the work. “Rather than waiting months to see if the tumor is shrinking, you could get an early read to see if you’re moving in the right direction.”
The sensor is based off findings that showed that cancer tissue sometimes becomes more acidic when it is under assault from chemotherapy. The sensor subsequently reads pH levels.
The sensor also measures dissolved oxygen. Tumors thrive in low-oxygen conditions, and the lower the oxygen, the more radiation that is needed. The sensors could allow doctors to adjust radiation levels depending on the oxygen levels in the tumor.