LSU Electrical Engineering Professor Designs Handheld Device to Detect Cancer

June 13, 2024

Stock image at microscopic level of cancer cellBATON ROUGE, LA – LSU Electrical Engineering Associate Professor Jian Xu is leading a team of LSU researchers that includes Computer Science Associate Professor Jian Zhang in designing a handheld device that will be able to distinguish between cancerous and non-cancerous tissue in real time during surgical resection of tumors. 

“This increases the likelihood of removing all cancerous cells in the tumor margin, which reduces the rate of recurrence and improves survival,” Xu said. 

Researchers identified increased Raman spectroscopy—a non-destructive chemical analysis technique based upon the interaction of light with the chemical bonds within the material—features in laryngeal cancer tissues, then created a convolutional-neural-network to analyze real-time tissue findings in order to identify which tissues were likely to be cancerous. This methodology has been tested in ex-vivo (i.e., in an environment outside the living organism) on human laryngeal cancers and has shown to have 96.1 overall accuracy and 95.2% sensitivity and 96.9% specificity for distinguishing the tissues.

The benefits of the device are that it will reduce laryngeal cancer remissions after surgical removal, and it’s safe for human use. It also provides real-time diagnosis during surgery unlike current methods that use postsurgical tissue examinations. It’s also not dependent upon tissue examination translation, does not require tissue preparation, and there is reduced tissue sampling bias, leading to more accurate results. 

Xu’s project has received assistance from LSU's Office of Innovation & Technology Commercialization (ITC) in the patenting process for the device. 


LSU ITC protects and commercializes LSU’s intellectual property. The office focuses on transferring early-stage inventions and works into the marketplace for the greater benefit of society. ITC also handles federal invention reporting, which allows LSU to receive hundreds of millions of dollars each year in federally funded research, and processes confidentiality agreements, material transfer agreements, and other agreements related to intellectual property.

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Contact: Libby Haydel
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