MySkin Technologies: Melanin Meter for a Growing Hyper-Pigmentation Market
This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I project aims to develop a new instrument for detecting and measuring the melanin or pigmentation in human skin. The intellectual merit stems from developing a deeper and more quantitative understanding of the trade-offs inherent in creating a market disruptive, low-cost melanin-measuring device. The technology is based on using intensity-modulated light to detect melanin noninvasively. The technical challenge for this project is to identify the optimal components and design parameters of the prototype, using a flexible breadboard configuration and to develop a roadmap for miniaturization. The R&D effort will include the identification of components that result in an instrument that will yield a repeatable and reliable melanin measurement that is designed for ease-of use by the general public.
The broader impact/commercial potential of this project is the extension of the melanin measuring technology to the detection of incipient skin cancer (abnormal melanin levels within localized areas of the skin is a key indicator of this disease). Because of the estimated low cost of the instrument it has the potential of being used by local pharmacies or by individuals at home. This could have a major medical benefit by enabling regular personalized monitoring to guard against this insidious condition that becomes more prevalent in an aging population. It is well documented in the medical literature that early cancer detection can result in more cost-effective treatments, helping to stem the tide of rising health-care costs.
Northeastern University’s College of Engineering is home to numerous federally-funded research centers and an array of leading-edge projects and initiatives that advance discovery and new knowledge in health, sustainability, and security.