Rethinking Healthcare

23 naked photos can help diagnose skin cancer with new iPhone app

23 naked photos can help diagnose skin cancer with new iPhone app

Posting in Cancer

UMSkinCheck helps you track lesions you're concerned about. AND, Northwestern researchers are working on a way to make treatment as easy as applying a moisturizer.

Spending the last couple months outdoors has gotten a lot of us worried about unprotected sun exposure. Here're some good news!

1. A free iPhone app provides DIY skin cancer diagnosis. The Atlantic reports.

Over 90% of melanomas are detectable with the naked eye, so it makes sense to check your body regularly. But no matter how much time you spend in front of the mirror, subtle changes in pre-existent spots or moles that may presage melanoma might not be so obvious.

To add clinical objectivity to self-exam, a new app out of the University of Michigan -- UMSkinCheck -- establishes your skin's baseline and includes a risk-assessment survey, periodic reminders to check your body for any signs of cancer, and examples of cancerous lesions so that you know what you're looking for.

But first, you need 23 naked pictures of yourself.

While you're posing, someone needs to line up your body parts with the outlines on the screen, point, and shoot.

2. Scientists have developed a drug delivery system that could make treating skin cancer as simple as applying a cream -- a supercharged moisturizer with gene-regulating technology. New Scientist reports.

Easy to use and affecting only the area where its applied, treatments placed directly on the skin would be an ideal drug solution for skin conditions including melanoma. Clinics currently use lasers or ultrasound to help deliver drugs deep into the skin.

Now, Northwestern's Amy Paller and Chad Mirkin found a way to penetrate the skin barrier and enter cells using nanoparticles.

They coated tiny gold balls with small interfering RNA (siRNA) -- tiny pieces of nucleic acid selected to target a gene responsible for making cancer cells grow quickly.

The duo mixed the drug with store-bought moisturizer and applied it to mouse skin. The intended gene was targeted without causing toxicity or other side effects in the surrounding skin.

The work was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences earlier this month.

[Via Atlantic, New Scientist]

Image: UMSkinCheck

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Janet Fang

Contributing Editor

Janet Fang has written for Nature, Discover and the Point Reyes Light. She is currently a lab technician at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. She holds degrees from the University of California, Berkeley and Columbia University. She is based in New York. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure