A team of medical and bioengineering undergraduates from McMaster University in Canada has received the International James Dyson Award for 2017. Their design solution, the sKan, is a low cost and non-invasive melanoma detection device.
The sKan uses temperature sensors to identify cancerous cells, which are warmer than normal cells. The device features thermistors to monitor cancerous cells’ heat emissions in real time. The heat map it creates, shows which cells recover more quickly from thermal shock, indicating the presence of melanoma. A medical professional can use the quantitative findings produced by the sKan to indicate whether the patient needs to be referred for further investigation or not.
According to the World Health Organization, skin cancer accounts for 1 in every 3 cancer diagnoses. The estimated 5-year survival rate for patients whose melanoma is detected early is approximately 98 percent. Current melanoma detection methods either rely on a visual inspection, or need a specialist’s opinion which is time consuming and costly. With high numbers of patients needing a rapid diagnosis to begin treatment, the health services are at maximum capacity.
“We are truly humbled and excited to be given this remarkable opportunity,” says the sKan team. The team plans to use the $40,000 prize money to reiterate and refine their design to ensure it passes the US Food and Drug Administration’s standards.