Mother's melanoma leads to Israeli device for early detection


Ofir Aharon invented a new technology and put it on a patented scanner that shows the early deterioration of skin lesions before they become pigmented.

By Abigail Klein Leichman, Israel21c

Ofir Aharon was in the final year of his doctoral studies in electro-optics when his mother was diagnosed with melanoma.

Learning everything he could about this deadly form of skin cancer, Aharon came to the conclusion that more than half of malignant (usually soft) melanoma lesions are not diagnosed within the first two years after onset – at a stage where treatment could be life-saving.

"Doctors say that 50 percent of skin cancer begins to be innocent & # 39; and then it becomes cancer, but pathologists familiar with the structure of the tissue say that 95% of the lesions that look innocent have started as cancer. I wondered why there was not a tool that could show early deterioration of the lesions long before they became pigmented, "says Aharon to ISRAEL21c.

"I saw a vacuum here. I knew something was happening under the skin if it was becoming cancer. "

Aharon spoke with dermatology and electro-optics experts about his idea of ​​scanning subdermal skin lesions from different optical fields and using algorithms to extract the differences between the images in order to quantify minor distortions.

"My friends said," If you want to do a mitzvah for your mother, take her to the whole world. And then I started working, "recalls Aharon.

In 2015, he left his job as a researcher at KLA-Tencor to give full attention to scanner and algorithm development through his startup, Scade Medical, ( in a home-tested Israeli. Chief Scientist and the Israel Industrial R & D Foundation of Singapore (SIIRD).

The patented prototype of the startup, BlueSky, is based on the DOSI (differential optical spectral polarization imaging) technology that Aharon invented. He says it provides real-time data that is not available to dermatologists.

Seven lives saved in clinical trials

In preliminary clinical studies at Soroka Medical Center in Beersheva, DOSI technology achieved a detection rate of 100 percent in 77 skin lesions. A 139 proof-of-concept (POC) study of 139 lesions, performed at five clinics in Jerusalem, Rome and Texas, showed approximately 92% specificity and 100% sensitivity.

The new method was about four times better than the current histology method of standard dermoscopy, says Aharon.

"We've saved seven lives at the clinics where we tested our device," he says.

"A 25-year-old woman who agreed to participate in a DOSI examination said she had a wart on her leg for many years. They scanned with my machine and I saw a distortion. "

Although five dermatologists believed that the mole was harmless, Aharon persuaded them to remove it for a more detailed examination.

"It turned out to be melanoma at an advanced stage. In other weeks, the tissue would have metastasized. Without the DOSI method, she would be dead now, "says Aharon.

Avner Shemer, a dermatologist at Sheba Medical Center in Tel HaShomer, believes the BlueSky prototype shows great potential to help dermatologists make a safer melanoma diagnosis and may even be used at home by patients to check their own signs.

"Every two days, patients come to my clinic asking to be screened for skin cancer," Shemer says. ISRAEL21c. The main tool to do this is a dermoscope, but a biopsy is needed if a mark looks suspicious.

"The invention of Ofir is the first dynamic dermoscope," he says. "He sees polarized ions inside the mole that move differently than in a benign mole. It's a unique system and it's very smart. "

A market of US $ 1 billion

According to the World Health Organization, about 132,000 new cases of melanoma are diagnosed worldwide each year. Melanoma kills about one American every hour and is particularly prevalent in Australia and New Zealand. These are three of the seven countries where DOSI is patented.

Scade Medical is led by a multidisciplinary team of businessmen and executives from the medical device industry, along with an advisory board of dermatologists and surgeons. Dr. Leon Gilead, senior skin surgeon at Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem, is the company's medical director.

To achieve Aharon's goal of becoming the gold standard for early detection of melanoma, Scade Medical is forming a board of directors and preparing to raise between $ 3 million and $ 5 million to develop the BlueSky prototype and initiate clinical trials for FDA approval. (USA), CE (Europe) and MDSAP (Canada).

Aharon says the total addressable market for dermatology devices is more than $ 1 billion in the US alone.

He sees a number of possible additional uses for the handheld scanner, which should have an adapter for use with a cloud-connected smartphone that serves as an artificial intelligence (AI) database to detect new skin cancer patterns.

"The technology also has the potential to mark the margins of the lesions, avoiding unnecessary procedures for repeated excision, scars and skin implants," he explains.

"In a third stage, Scade will expand its first clinical indication to encompass non-melanoma skin cancers. Finally, Scade will launch the state-approved home device that will promote self-examination and early treatment of skin cancer, allowing dermatologists to follow the distortions of their patients on their own terms and time. "

The company has initiated preliminary discussions with potential opinion leaders from the US, Germany, France, Italy, England and Israel and is seeking collaborations around the world.

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