Taking a Clear Picture of Skin Cancer

Sanjay and SanchitaOne in five Americans will develop skin cancer during the course of a lifetime. Current diagnosis procedures are both subjective and, in the case of biopsies, invasive. A faster, more accurate skin cancer diagnosis tool would save time and save lives. Sanjay Krishna and his wife, Sanchita, who holds a Ph.D. in cancer biology from UNM, are combining their expertise to achieve that goal.

In early 2010 they registered a new company, SK Infrared LLC (SKI), which will harness advances in nanoscale infrared imaging technology from Sanjay’s research group to create a noninvasive technique for skin cancer diagnosis. They plan to use nanoscale infrared sensors as the foundation for a low-cost, portable camera that could scan a person’s skin, sense a change in temperature given off by cancerous lesions, and provide conclusive evidence that the patient has skin cancer without the need for biopsy.

They are working closely with researchers from the School of Medicine, including Marianne Berwick, professor in UNM’s Department of Epidemiology, a world renowned expert in melanoma, and Steve Padilla, Chairman of UNM’s Department of Dermatology, to undertake a pilot study on a small set of patients. The Krishnas have signed an option agreement to license technology they create from STC.UNM and have applied for funding from NSF and NIH to build a prototype camera.