Skin cancer-detecting device wins 2017 James Dyson award


The James Dyson Award has been open to university or recent design graduates across the world since 2002 and celebrates significant, practical and commercially viable designs.

The goal is to select patients who should be sent for a biopsy as early detection is key for the treatment of melanoma. Cancerous cells have a high metabolic rate - or release energy more quickly - than normal cells, so will regain heat more quickly than non-cancerous tissue after the ice pack is taken off. The sKan uses accurate and low-priced temperature sensors to pinpoint areas of tissue that gain heat quicker than the surrounding area of skin. Current melanoma detection methods either rely on a visual inspection, or need a specialist's opinion which is time consuming and costly.

The readings are then processed by an algorithm that uses time, temperature, and spacial readings to create a heat map, and show any spots with heat irregularities that could be a melanoma.

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A new device called the sKan has won the 2017 global James Dyson Award. As the victor of this prestigious award, sKan, which was created by a group of four inspiring engineering undergrads at Ontario's McMaster University, will receive $40,000 to further develop their tool, seek FDA approval, and ultimately bring the tool into the world for use.

With 132,000 instances of melanoma cancers occurring globally each year, a new device developed by four Canadian-based engineers that can cheaply and accurately detect it on a person's skin has won this year's worldwide James Dyson Award.

The handheld device is made from widely available and cheap components and could make detection of the disease more accessible.

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The device costs less than $1,000 (£760), compared with £20,000 for high-resolution thermal imaging cameras now available, and could save thousands of lives by confirming the presence of cancer before biopsy procedures, the team said. Dyson said he chose the Canadian students as the prize winners because their invention has the "potential to save lives around the world". The team plans to use the $40,000 prize money to reiterate and refine their design to ensure it passes the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's standards.

"We are truly humbled and excited to be given this remarkable opportunity", says the sKan team.

In doing so the device helps solve the problem of current high-performance 3D printing tools wasting large amounts of material. Despite being the most common medical procedure, 33 percent of first vein puncture attempts fail.

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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.