Big Ideas

Ralph Weissleder, M.D., Ph.D.

We don’t need to tell you smartphones are changing the future. But did you know they are changing the future of medicine?

Most clinical physicians agree that early detection of cancer cells is the key to earlier treatments. Earlier treatments often mean more options and a better prognosis. With the current technology in our daily lives, we often expect and receive instant results or feedback. Now, one V Foundation-funded scientist is turning those expectations into reality when it comes to medical care. His results could revolutionize early detection and action for breast cancer patients.

The next time you pull out your smartphone, imagine it as a tool to save lives.

Ralph Weissleder, M.D., Ph.D., from Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center, received funding from the Stuart Scott Memorial Cancer Research Fund. The fund was created in memory of ESPN personality and long-time V Foundation friend and supporter Stuart Scott. It funds either minority researchers or research dedicated to the aggressiveness, therapeutic responsiveness and ultimate outcomes experienced by cancer patients from diverse ethnic populations.

Weissleder’s research developed a low-cost imaging module, mountable on smartphones, that uses holography to detect and profile tumors using scant clinical samples. The device, named D3, has shown excellent diagnostic accuracy in pilot laboratory experiments and early clinical testing of patient biopsies. This next-generation platform in cancer diagnostics can tackle a key unmet need – early cancer detection (including breast cancers and lymphomas) in underdeveloped areas of the world, where doctors are working with highly inadequate resources. It will allow judicious and personalized treatment to the right patients in great need at the right time.

The next time you pull out your smartphone, imagine it as a tool to save lives. Thanks to Weissleder, it is no longer just a technological dream. It has become reality and a new life-saving method to detect cancer earlier.