Roland Piquepaille's Technology Trends
How new technologies are modifying our way of life

mardi 27 juillet 2004

The new Scripps-PARC Institute for Advanced Biomedical Sciences (SPIABS for short) is the fruit of the union between Xerox's PARC and the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla and promises to transform medical research and the practice of medicine. The Mercury News writes that it's making a big leap to innovation in medicine. SPIABS already announced an enthalpy array, an extremely precise nanocalorimeter. It can detect changes of millionths of a degree in temperature, using samples of only 240 nanoliters. This nanocalorimeter will be used to "help pharmaceutical companies quickly pick out the best drug candidates and get improved medications to market sooner." Earlier this year, SPIABS unveiled the FAST cytometer, a laser scanning device so precise it can spot a single cancerous cell in the middle of the ten other millions contained in a standard blood sample. And SPIABS is working on other projects, such as sutures sewn on the perimeter of a removed tumor, equipped with laser diodes to spot and kill new cancerous cells as soon as they appear.

Xerox PARC, best known as the home of some of the great innovations in computer science, is turning its prowess in a new direction -- medical devices
Working with the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, one of the biggest non-profit biomedical laboratories in the country, PARC is developing new tools that could transform medical research and the practice of medicine.

Here is how Mercury News reports about the new nanocalorimeter.

The Scripps-PARC partnership is unveiling a miniature device that can measure tiny temperature changes that occur when a drug interacts with its target. It's designed to help pharmaceutical companies quickly pick out the best drug candidates and get improved medications to market sooner.
Called a nanocalorimeter, it looks like an Etch A Sketch and can detect changes so small that they're measured in the millionths of a degree.
Scripps-PARC Enthalpy Array On this illustration, "sample and reference specimens are mixed in identical detector regions, providing differential temperature measurement." (Credit: SPIABS). You'll find other details and images on the Enthalpy Array web page. And here is a link to the press release announcement.

Now, let's turn to the FAST cytometer.

Earlier this year, the partners announced a laser scanning device that quickly detects tiny numbers of stray cancer cells in a blood sample. It's called the Fiber Array Scanning Technology (FAST) cytometer, and in theory it can pick out one malignant cell out of 10 million normal ones in a sample of blood.
Scripps-PARC FAST Cytometer Here is a "sample image generated from FAST Cytometer. The system has detected 288 potential rare cells among over 50 million scanned." (Credit: SPIABS). You'll find other details and images on the FAST Cytometer for Rare Cell Detection web page.

What will be next?

It could be the development of sutures that are sewn around the perimeter after a tumor is removed. The sutures would contain tiny laser diodes to detect the presence of cancer cells and then emit ultraviolet light to kill them.
The partners also are working together to figure out why transplanted organs are rejected by analyzing the changing protein patterns in cells, Bruce said.

For more information, you can look at this list of research projects at the Scripps-PARC Institute for Advanced Biomedical Sciences.

Sources: Paul Jacobs, Mercury News, July 26, 2004; Scripps-PARC Institute for Advanced Biomedical Sciences website

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