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Bananas Help Scientists Detect Skin Cancer

Update Date: Feb 16, 2016 10:28 AM EST

The humble banana is being used as a screening system for skin cancer, even as bananas replicate the formation of human skin. As the fruit gets older, the spots also increase, mainly due to a common enzyme known as tyrosinase. People who contract melanoma, a skin cancer disease, harbour more of the enzyme in the body.

Scientists from the Laboratory of Physical and Analytical Electrochemistry in Switzerland conclude that the common enzyme between bananas and humans is a link with the growth of cancer cells, says Food and Wine.

Hence, bananas are an important screening system for skin cancer. "The spots on human skin and on a banana's peel are roughly the same size," said researcher from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Hubert Girault, according to Business Insider.

Human skin, as well as the banana, may both develop brown spots due to the inaccurate regulation of the enzyme tyrosinase, which tends to alter the overall proportion of melanin in both, making them brown. Scientists created a scanning system consisting of eight flexible microelectrodes that can pass in slow speed over the skin so that the amount and distribution of the enzyme tyrosinase can be measured.

"This system could obviate the need for invasive tests like biopsies," the team said.

Girault claims that the screening system can help to "eliminate tumors, render biopsies and discourage the need for chemo therapy", according to Yahoo News. "Our initial laboratory tests showed us that our device could be used to destroy cells," Girault said.

The research has been published in the German science journal Angewandte Chemie.

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