Mac students win worldwide prize for cancer-detecting devices


SKan aims to be a cheaper, easy-to-use system for early detection of melanoma, and costs under $1,000 (£763).

With 37 people diagnosed with melanoma every day in the United Kingdom, and an estimated 2,500 lives lost to the skin cancer in the United Kingdom every year, a cheap, non-invasive diagnosis tool has the scope to make a real difference in how the disease is discovered and dealt with.

A group of engineering students have been awarded prestigious James Dyson Award and a cash prize of $30,000, for their device that spots skin cancer early.

Early diagnostic methods for melanoma rely heavily on visual inspections, which can be inaccurate. Dyson said he chose the Canadian students as the prize winners because their invention has the "potential to save lives around the world". With high numbers of patients needing a rapid diagnosis to begin treatment, the health services are at maximum capacity.

Melanomas - as cancerous cells - have a higher metabolic rate than normal cells. When an area of interest on the skin is rapidly cooled, cancerous tissue will regain heat at a faster rate than non-cancerous tissue.

The device works by using accurate temperature sensors called thermistors to track the temperature of different areas of the skin after cooling it down with an ice pack.

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Once the results are digitised, they are displayed as a heat map and temperature difference time plot, together with a statement of findings - showing the presence, or lack of presence, of melanoma.

The team plans to use the funds to build a new prototype that can be used in pre-clinical testing.

"We are truly humbled and excited to be given this remarkable opportunity", they said.

A team of engineering students who built an affordable, handheld melanoma detector has won the 2017 worldwide James Dyson Award. The designers, Gabriele Natale and Michele Tonizzo, hope to tackle the amount of waste produced by current high performance 3-D printing tools. This year that include the Atropos, a 3D-printing robotic arm created to reduce the amount of waste material, and the Twistlight, a device that uses LED lights to guide needles right into the vein to reduce the amount of misses. Despite being the most common medical procedure, 33 percent of first vein puncture attempts fail.

However, the Twistlight can be used single handed so the other hand can be used to undo the vein strap, tension the skin and fix the catheter in place when pulling out the steel stylet.