This might sound something out of the classic television sitcom “Gilligan’s Island” where the character of the professor could invent anything out of coconuts, bananas, and bamboo, but the facts show that bananas can indeed be used to detect various stages of melanoma.
The reason for this is because banana peels have the same enzyme reaction that human skin does when attacked. Research shows that as bananas get older they get covered in black spots that are caused to appear by the enzyme tyrosinase. In human skin, the same process occurs and is known as melanoma, a skin cancer. Knowing this data, a scientist named Tzu-En Lin exploited the process that occurs in both human skin and ripe fruit to create an imaging technique that measures tyrosinase levels and the way it is distributed in human skin. In addition to Tzu-En Lin, Huber Girault of the Laboratory of Physical and Analytical electrochemistry at Sion also concluded that the enzyme is reliable enough to measure melanoma growth.
The team of scientists took a scanner with eight microelectrodes lined up in a row like that of a line of soldiers. The microelectrodes are flexible. The small sensors then pass over the uneven surface of the skin without causing damage of any kind. Then the measurement of petrochemical responses within an area of a tiny square millimeters produces a result. The electrodes then calculate the distribution and quantity of tyrosinase, the enzyme in question. This allows the scientist to determine at what stage the melanoma is at.
Not only does the scanner find and diagnose melanoma in whatever stage it is in, bit it could also be used to eradicate cancers. Other applications for scanning other organs for cancers is on the horizon too.
It will take some time for the researchers and other colleagues to dig through all the data and see where it can all be applicable.
More particulars of the research shows that when they first tested on fruit that was ripe and then on cancerous tissue samples, the data emerged that the level and distribution of tyrosinase was indeed indicative of the stage of the disease. It’s not very clear in stage 1 and in stage 2 it is present in larger amounts and distributed evenly. In stage 3 it is distributed unevenly.
The prospects for the future are astounding. With skin cancer aka melanoma, a constant danger to millions around the world, find a way to detect the disease early and as to what level it has grown to will definitely save a lot of lives and prevent misery and expense.
This research is a good example of how nature provides a simple answer to bringing about a new way of treating diseases and illnesses. Hopefully the team of researchers will hit the high marks and produce technology that will enhance the lives of millions.