Zebra Medical Technologies’ Device Provides an Answer to Deluge of Skin Cancer Screenings
American dermatologists experienced 7.5 million office visits for suspected non-melanoma skin cancer in 2017, and a number of factors are indicating these numbers are liable to increase.
First, scientific concerns mount continuously over global warming and a decrease in ozone levels, which have magnified the attention over the potential impact on skin cancer rates and solidified the importance of screening for both physicians and the general population. And, an increasing array of at-home self-diagnostic devices and apps are causing more people to visit medical offices for further testing.
But this wise, proactive response can have unintended consequences. Each year, patients endure 15 million biopsies for suspected skin cancers, and more than half of these prove negative, which results in a significant burden and costs to the healthcare system.
The situation makes the need for Zebra Medical Technologies’ (ZMT) device more crucial than ever. The company has made great strides to provide a solution with the creation of the first non-invasive, real-time cellular imaging system aimed at reducing the need for traditional biopsies. This one-of-a-kind technology provides a view of skin cellular pathology without a biopsy in real time, allowing physicians to painlessly and quickly inspect a larger number of patients.
Just by touching the skin, the company’s handheld microscope, the EagleCyte, immediately shows images that replicate the colored stained slides pathologists and physicians use to identify cancerous cells.
Recently, the National Cancer Institute provided the first phase of funding for a pilot study that uses the company’s clinical prototype, and ZMT is now enrolling patients at El Camino Hospital to gather its first clinical data. The aim of the study is to compare biopsy results with real-time images from the EagleCyte to test its efficacy.
“We are very fortunate to be able to leverage our proximity with El Camino Hospital and enroll patients right in our own backyard,” said Gabriel Sanchez, co-founder and CEO of Zebra Medical Technologies. “We are looking forward to working with Dr. Menkes to test our technology with patients who are coming in for suspected skin cancer, and show how this solution can save physicians and patients time and unnecessary worry.”
ZMT’s technology has already proven to be very successful when testing healthy volunteers. The startup is also experimenting with artificial intelligence that may help clinicians quickly determine whether tissue is cancerous or healthy based on features in the images. If cancer is suspected, ZMT’s technology can help guide physicians where to look more closely, within minutes, without cutting.
“EagleCyte provides three distinct advantages: early detection, monitoring and pre-treatment planning, which greatly simplifies the current process and empowers physicians to make decisions accurately and in a more expeditious manner,” said Gabriel.
ZMT’s Zebrascope technology, the predecessor of the EagleCyte system that is designed to image skeletal muscle microstructure, is also receiving attention. Northwestern University just kicked off a three-year study on the effects of stroke and subsequent brain damage on muscle impairment and is using Zebrascope as part of the study.