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       A cancer detection technique that uses an advanced sensor developed at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA, is being tested by the prestigious Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, MA, for its use in monitoring the effectiveness of cancer treatment in patients.

       The sensor is part of a device called the BioScan System™, developed by OmniCorder Technologies, Inc., Stony Brook, NY. OmniCorder has been developing and testing the system for three years and received Food and Drug Administration clearance to market it in December.

       "Since we announced the BioScan System's clearance by the FDA, we have been inundated with requests to install and test the unit in clinics and hospitals across the country and overseas for a variety of cancer as well as other disease applications," said OmniCorder president and CEO Mark Fauci. "We selected the Dana- Farber site because we feel that this center could best help us to have the largest and most immediate impact on improving cancer treatment."

       The application at Dana-Farber is different from those that have been tested at other sites. The BioScan System™ has been used to locate and confirm the presence of a cancerous breast lesion by detecting the cancer's ability to recruit new blood supply -- one of the hallmarks of a malignant lesion. The goal of the Dana-Farber research is to evaluate the BioScan System's ability to monitor biological effects of cancer treatment and to help physicians detect treatment-induced changes in cancerous lesions of the breast, skin and other organs. Armed with this information, they can better determine effectiveness of the treatments.

       Dana-Farber is testing several new classes of anti-cancer products, including some -- called antiangiogenesis factors -- specifically designed to limit cancer growth by inhibiting its blood supply. (Angiogenesis is the formation and differention of blood vessels.) The BioScan System™ was designed to detect minute changes in blood supply to cancerous lesions and may help doctors measure precisely any decrease in blood supply to the cancer caused by these new treatments.

       "Current technologies to monitor the effects of cancer treatment might miss important biologic and clinical effects, especially of newer treatment strategies such as antiangiogenesis approaches and drugs to induce differentiation," said Dr. George D. Demetri, medical director, Center for Sarcoma and Bone Oncology, Department of Adult Oncology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School in Boston. Drs. Demetri and Milos Janicek, from Dana-Farber's diagnostic oncoradiology division, will be co-principal investigators in the study.

       "The technology harnessed by BioScan -- if it proves what we hope it will -- has the potential to provide this ability for researchers and clinicians who might otherwise miss subtle yet important effects of new drugs," Demetri said. "By doing so, it could have a substantial effect on developing new therapeutic approaches to cancer, such as directing researchers to optimize biologically active doses and even reducing the time it takes to demonstrate a drug's efficacy for FDA registration. It will be important to correlate the findings of this technology with clinical outcomes. With this type of tool, it is conceivable that once a drug has been approved, the same technology would allow us to monitor and individualize cancer treatment on a patient-by- patient basis."

       OmniCorder is exclusively licensed by JPL to use the sensor technology, called Quantum Well Infrared Photodetector, and also holds licenses from other organizations. OmniCorder is a leading developer of non-invasive infrared disease detection systems. The JPL sensor has also been used in terrestrial applications, such as locating hot spots during fires, and it has potential uses for search and rescue, spotting faulty welds and blockages, and volcano observation. It also will fly sometime in the next several months on a small space technology research vehicle mission to detect the severity of radiation in the Van Allen Belt.

       JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.