New endoscopic camera for cancer detection takes a lesson from mantis shrimp

Mantis shrimp, vibrantly colored marine crustaceans, have become the subject of a joint research project to create a camera that can detect numerous forms of cancer, according to a Smithsonian Magazine report.

Mantis shrimp have compound eyes and the ability to discern differences in polarized light. Inspired by this ability, researchers from the University of Queensland in Australia, Washington University in St. Louis, University of Bristol in England and the University of Maryland in Baltimore are collaborating to develop a camera sensitive enough to detect cancerous lesions before the cells have multiplied enough to create visible tumors, according to the report.

Combining the fundamentals of mantis shrimp vision with the complimentary metal-oxide-semiconductor sensors commonly used in smartphones, the researchers have developed an imaging sensor smaller than a penny. The new camera is smaller and more sensitive than previous efforts to harness the power of polarized imaging.

The research team began its efforts in the area of colon cancer. They believe the camera could simply be placed at the end of an endoscope and used to detect CRC cancer earlier than before.

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