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New device could identify pre-cancerous cells in oesophagus

Biomedical engineers at Duke University, US, have developed a non-invasive device which can identify Barrett's oesophagus as well as precancerous cells in the oesophagus.

The new device, which uses a technology known as angle-resolved low coherence interferometry (a/LCI), consists of a tiny light source at the end of an endoscope.

The physician shines short bursts of this light at the area of the suspected tissue along the lining of the oesophagus, and the sensors capture and analyse the light as it is reflected back.

By interpreting the way the light scatters, it is possible to identify signs that the cells are changing from their healthy, normal state to cancerous state.

Researchers have successfully tested the device on patients in a clinical trial led by UNC Healthcare and are planning to conduct a clinical trial for Food and Drug Administration premarket approval (PMA).

Barrett’s oesophagus is a change in the cells lining the esophagus due to acid refux, and these cellular changes can also be a precursor to cancer.