MEDIA RELATIONS OFFICE
JET PROPULSION LABORATORY
CALIFORNIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION
PASADENA, CALIF. 91109 TELEPHONE (818) 354-5011
Nancy Lovato (818) 354-0474
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE January 28, 2000
BREAST CANCER SCREENING AID CLEARED FOR DIAGNOSTIC USE
The war against breast cancer has a new weapon, thanks to an
advanced sensor developed at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).
The device, called the BioScan System, was developed by
OmniCorder Technologies, Inc., Stony Brook, N.Y. OmniCorder received
clearance to market the system from the Food and Drug Administration
in December 1999.
Studies have determined that cancer cells exude nitric oxide.
This causes changes in blood flow in tissue surrounding cancer that
can be detected by the sensor. The BioScan System is sensitive to
temperature changes of less than .015 degree Celsius (.027 degree
Fahrenheit) and has a speed of more than 200 frames per second. It
causes no discomfort to the patient and uses no ionizing radiation.
"Clearance for use of this noninvasive diagnostic tool is an
important milestone for us," said OmniCorder president and CEO Mark
Fauci, who noted that the device has also been cleared to be marketed
for other applications.
The sensor, called the Quantum Well Infrared Photodetector
(QWIP), was invented by Dr. Sarath Gunapala, principal engineer of
JPL's Device Research and Applications Section. The digital sensor
detects the infrared energy emitted from the body, thus "seeing" the
minute differences associated with blood flow changes. Earlier
versions of QWIP had potential applications, such as locating hot
spots during fires and observing volcanoes.
"It is a great pleasure to see something I invented being used
for public benefit," said Gunapala, "especially in medicine and even
more so in the early detection of cancer."
The BioScan System also uses Dynamic Area Telethermometry,
invented by Dr. Michael Anbar, founding scientist of OmniCorder. The
two technologies work together to image the target area and to provide
the physician with immediate diagnostic information.
JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology,
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