UH Scientists Suggest Novel Screening Tool for Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma in Children

Scientists at the University of Hawaii (UH) Mānoa have discovered a novel method of diagnosing non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a group of cancers that starts in cells called lymphocytes, which are part of the body’s immune system.

Currently, there are no widely recommended screening tests at this time for non-Hodgkin lymphoma, which is usually diagnosed through invasive surgical or needle biopsies or removal of living tissue for examination. However, this study has the potential to change that paradigm by suggesting the use of Raman spectroscopy technology as an initial step to determine if and when a biopsy would be necessary.

Dr. Bruce Shiramizu, pediatrician, researcher at the UH John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM) and senior author of the paper describes their findings as a repurposing of technology that has been used for the Department of Defense in remotely identifying chemicals such as explosives using a laser technique.

“We partnered with an investigator with a physics background to design a way to use a hand-held probe to identify different types of pediatric non-Hodgkin lymphoma tissues,” said Dr. Shiramizu. He adds, “the importance of this work is to be able to use the hand-held probe as a screening or diagnostic tool for real-time assessment of a mass that might be a tumor.”

According to Dr. Melissa Agsalda-Garcia, researcher at JABSOM’s Hawaiʻi Center for Aids, “this work in characterizing malignant cells has future diagnostic implications as a non-invasive initial tissue assessment in children with potential malignancies.” Agsalda-Garcia is the first-author of the paper.

This project is being supported by the St. Baldrickʻs Foundation, the largest private funder of childhood cancer research grants, through multiple grants totaling $113,000.

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