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Shares of MELA Sciences (
) are on watch Monday after a
highlights the debate
around MelaFind, the company's
melanoma-finding computer vision device which uses algorithms to pick out irregularities in pigmented skin legions. "My concern with MelaFind is that it just says everything is positive," one biostatistician who sat on the FDA review panel which evaluated the device says. "It will err on the side of caution," counters the company's director of commercialization. It will be interesting to see if the system can gain traction in what is quickly becoming a tough market for medical devices (
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The article reminds me of the argument over whether the world was flat or not; or if Amazon was a good idea or not in the beginning?
The negative tone of the article (which almost the entire article is) points out that the technology is not perfect. It missed 2 of 127 melanomas. At the same time the article says Melafind identifies too many false positives.
I think the example in the article to make the point is totally ridiculous ... "compared the accuracy of MelaFind in distinguishing non-melanomas to a hypothetical pregnancy test which, used on 100 nonpregnant women, would mistakenly conclude that 90 of them were pregnant."
That suggests a 90% inaccuracy rate, and only 10% accuracy specifically to say they are not pregnant.
The article did not address that dermatologists miss 20% of melanomas using their current visual methods. Missing only 2 of 127 seems better to me.
The article points out that MelaFind does not identify basal and squamous cell carcinomas. That infers that MelaFind isn't good enough because it only points out the melanomas that can kill you. Shouldn't the dermatologist be looking for the other two since they know Melafind does not identify them?
The one disturbing thing is the representation that only 150 devices have been sold. In March we had data from the company saying 400 devices were in operation. Were 250 devices distributed for free and non-paying for tests, or were the numbers inaccurate? Another report will be coming out from the company for the latest quarter soon.
Mela still has two major hurdles. They have to hire a new CEO and provide enough data to insurance companies to get them to cover the tests.
Jul 21 09:45 PM
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