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Focusing light on breast cancer diagnostics


A team of scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), comprising principally of Dr. Ishan Barman, Dr. Narahara Chari Dingari and Dr. Jaqueline Soares, and their clinical collaborators at University Hospitals, Cleveland have developed the Raman scattering-based concomitant diagnosis of breast cancer lesions and related micro-calcifications.

Let’s find out more about this new breast cancer research done by the team at MIT.

Early detection necessary!
According to MIT, one in eight women in the US will suffer from breast cancer in her lifetime and breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in women. Worldwide, breast cancer accounts for 22.9 percent of all cancers (excluding non-melanoma skin cancers) in women. In 2008, breast cancer caused 458,503 deaths worldwide (13.7 percent of cancer deaths in women).

Core needle biopsy.

Core needle biopsy.

Therefore, technological advancements for its early detection and subsequent treatment can make a significant impact by preventing patient morbidity and mortality and reducing healthcare costs, and are thus of utmost importance to society. Currently, mammography followed by stereotactic breast biopsy serves as the most promising route for screening and early detection of cancer lesions.

Nearly 1.6 million breast biopsies are performed and roughly 250,000 new breast cancers are diagnosed in the US each year. One of the most frequent reasons for breast biopsy is microcalcifications seen on screening mammography, the initial step in early detection of breast cancer. Microcalcifications are micron-scale deposits of calcium minerals in breast tissue that are considered one of the early mammographic signs of breast cancer and are, therefore, a target for stereotactic breast needle biopsy.

However, despite stereotactic guidance, needle biopsy fails to retrieve microcalcifications in one of five breast biopsy patients. In such cases, the resulting breast biopsies are either non-diagnostic or false-negative, thereby, placing the patient at risk and potentially necessitating a repeat biopsy, often as a surgical procedure.

There is an unmet clinical need for a tool to detect microcalcifications in real time and provide feedback to the radiologist during the stereotactic needle biopsy procedure as to whether the microcalcifications seen on mammography will be retrieved or the needle should be re-positioned, without the need to wait for a confirmatory specimen radiograph.

Such a tool could enable more efficient retrieval of microcalcifications, which would, in turn, minimize the number of x-rays and tissue cores required to achieve a diagnostic biopsy, shorten procedure time, reduce patient anxiety, distress and discomfort, prevent complications such as bleeding into the biopsy site seen after multiple biopsy passes and ultimately reduce the morbidity and mortality associated with non-diagnostic and false-negative biopsies and the need for follow up surgical biopsy.

If 200,000 repeat biopsies were avoided, at a cost of $5,000 per biopsy (a conservative estimate and would be much higher for surgical biopsies), a billion dollars per year can be saved by the US healthcare system. The MIT Laser Biomedical Research Center, has recently performed pioneering studies to address this need by proposing, developing and validating Raman and diffuse reflectance spectroscopy as powerful guidance tools, due to their ability to provide exquisite molecular information with minimal perturbation.

Specifics of the technique
Stating the specifics of the technique developed by MIT, the team said that their research focuses on the development of Raman spectroscopy as a clinical tool for the real time diagnosis of breast cancer at the patient bedside. “We report for the first time development of a novel Raman spectroscopy algorithm to simultaneously determine microcalcification status and diagnose the underlying breast lesion, in real time, during stereotactic breast core needle biopsy procedures.”

Microcalcification..

Microcalcification..

In this study, Raman spectra were obtained ex vivo from fresh stereotactic breast needle biopsies using a compact clinical Raman system, modeled and analyzed using support vector machines to develop a single-step, Raman spectroscopy based diagnostic algorithm to distinguish normal breast tissue, fibrocystic change, fibroadenoma and breast cancer, with and without microcalcifications.

The developed decision algorithm exhibits a positive and negative predictive value of 100 percent and 96 percent, respectively, for the diagnosis of breast cancer with or without microcalcifications in the clinical dataset of nearly 50 patients.

Significantly, the majority of breast cancers diagnosed using this Raman algorithm are ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), the most common lesion associated with microcalcifications, which has classically presented considerable diagnostic challenges.

This study demonstrates the potential of Raman spectroscopy to provide real-time feedback to radiologists during stereotactic breast needle biopsy procedures, reducing non-diagnostic and false negative biopsies. Indeed, the proposed approach lends itself to facile assembly of a side-viewing probe that could be inserted into the central channel of the biopsy needle for intermittent acquisition of the spectra, which would, in turn, reveal whether or not the tissue to be biopsied contains the targeted microcalcifications.
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PC’s Electronic Components Blog named top resource for electrical engineers! ;)

February 14, 2013 9 comments

Today, Feb. 14th, has turned out to be a great day for me! I received an email early morning, which stated: PC’s Electronic Components Blog is featured on the list of 100 Top Resources for Electrical Engineers that we published on ElectricalEngineeringSchools.org, USA!

Wow! This happens to be my sixth world title in a row!! The picture of the award badge is given alongside!!!

I am so very happy that my blog on electronic components has bagged an award! I had started my career writing about electronic components for Asian Sources Media, now Global Sources‌, in Hong Kong.

Back in those days – 1994-1995, there used to be some presence of electronic components made by local manufacturers, especially in Naraina Industrial Area, New Delhi. I still remember, very clearly, doing the rounds of Naraina, along with my friend, Dolly! Back then, most of the components were made for colour TV sets, and a few makers had just started making components for cellular phones.

Today, there are big-sized, very large representatives of electronic components in India.

I recall one of my earlier stories was on DIP switches. There used to be slide and rocker types of DIP switches. I wonder whether they are still used today! Maybe, they are, in some electronic devices! I also recall there used to be some demand for TV antennae at that time, as well as for cell phone antennae! How time has flown by since!!

May I take this opportunity and offer sincere thanks to all of my readers, well wishers, friends and acquaintances I have made over the years for their continuous love and support! Without you, no award is ever possible! 😉

I’d like to conclude by taking the names of two gentlemen, who have spurred me on to write blogs on components, electronics and semiconductors, as well as telecom. They happen to be Alfred Cheng. country manager, Hong Kong, Global Sources, and Spenser Au, former publisher, CTG and now, CEO, Global Sources, Hong Kong, who made me work on the Telecom specs tables.

A word is also due for Raj Gopinath, my editor-in-chief at Asian Sources, and Daniel Tam, who replaced Spenser, back in 1999, as publisher of CTG. Special mention needs to be made of Claudius Chan, who I consider as a ‘guru’ of electronic components. Whatever I am today is largely due to my time spent at Global Sources! Thanks a lot, my dear friends!!

Alfred just sent me a mail saying: Hi Pradeep, How many more prizes would you like to win, my friend? I wish I could write as good as, maybe 50 percent as good as you do since we used to work together in the electronics industry. 🙂 Thanks a lot, my friend!

Will global semicon industry see growth in 2013?

February 2, 2013 14 comments

How will the global semiconductor industry perform in 2013? After a contrasting spell of predictions for 2012, I see no change in 2013! So, what’s the answer to the million-dollar question posed as my headline? 🙂

Global electronics industry.

Global electronics industry.

After a disappointing and challenging 2012, global semiconductor executives believe that the worst is nearly behind them, and they are making investments to position their companies for a sustained, broad-based, multi-year recovery in 2013, as per a KPMG global semiconductor survey.

On Feb. 3, the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) announced that worldwide semiconductor sales for 2012 reached $291.6 billion, the industry’s third-highest yearly total, ever but a decrease of 2.7 percent from the record total of $299.5 billion set in 2011. Total sales for the year narrowly beat expectations from the World Semiconductor Trade Statistics (WSTS) organization’s industry forecast.

The World Semiconductor Trade Statistics (WSTS) estimated that the global semiconductor market in 2012 will be $290 billion, down 3.2 percent from 2011, followed by a recovery of positive 4.5 percent growth to $303 billion in 2013.

The worldwide semiconductor revenue is projected to total $311 billion in 2013, a 4.5 percent increase from 2012 revenue, according to Gartner Inc. The worldwide semiconductor revenue totaled $298 billion in 2012, a 3 percent decline from 2011 revenue of $307 billion, according to preliminary results by Gartner.

The outlook for the global semiconductor industry in 2013 will likely be 7.9 percent, according to Future Horizons. It means, the industry will likely grow to $315.4 billion in 2013. The Cowan LRA foreasting model put out the following sales and year-on-year sales growth numbers for 2012 and 2013: $292.992 billion (-2.2 percent) and $309.244 billion (+5.5 percent), respectively.

Databeans expects 2013 will see a rebound, with the semiconductor industry growing by 7 percent from 2012 totals to reach $313.04 billion. IDC forecasted that the worldwide semiconductor revenues will grow 4.9 percent and reach $319 billion in 2013.

IHS iSuppli claimed that the semiconductor silicon revenue will close 2012 at $303 billion, down 2.3 percent from $310 billion in 2011. The projected decline comes in contrast to the 1.3 percent gain made last year.

IC Insights forecasted 6 percent IC unit growth for 2013 based on expectations of global GDP to rise to 3.2 percent. According to IC

Source: VLSI Research, USA.

Source: VLSI Research, USA.

Insights, in 2017, China is expected to represent 38 percent of the worldwide IC market, up from 23 percent, 10 years earlier in 2007. Does this mean the USA and Europe are loosing their sheen?

The global semiconductor industry may record only 1.5 percent growth In 2013, as per The Infornation Network. There is, however, the possibility for a snap-back in revenues for 2013, irrespective of macroeconomic factors, such as what occurred in 2010.

Over the next three years, industry analysts estimate the global industry will grow approximately 6 percent 2013-2016 CAGR, according to Somshubro Pal Choudhury, managing director, Analog Devices India Pvt. Ltd.

Late 2012, I was speaking with Dr. Wally Rhines, chairman and CEO, Mentor Graphics. He said: “After almost no growth in 2012, most of the analysts are expecting improvement in semiconductor market growth in the coming year. Currently, the analyst forecasts for the semiconductor industry in 2013 range from 4.2 percent on the low side to 16.6 percent on the high side, with most firms coming in between 6 percent and 10 percent. The average of forecasts among the major semiconductor analyst firms is approximately 8.2 percent.”

WSTS also anticipates the world market to grow 5.2 percent to $319 billion in 2014, with healthy mid single digit growth across most of geographical regions and semiconductor product categories, supported by the healthier economy of the world.

Lastly, Forbes said that 2013 will be a turning point for the global semiconductor market.
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I listened to you, dear readers — presenting separate blogs on semiconductors and solar/PV

April 19, 2009 Comments off

Ever since I started writing this blog, I’ve always managed to maintain my affinity toward semiconductors. Publishing and maintaining a semicon blog, especially out of India, is difficult and extremely challenging, and well, suitably rewarding.

Several readers, well wishers and friends suggested that I also start taking in press releases, besides writing my own content! Their logic — who else can do it better! Wow… I’m really overwhelmed!

So, as always, I have listened to my friends — my readers and well wishers — and bow to their request!

Separate blogs on semicon and solar PV
This is just to inform everyone — readers, friends and well wishers — that I’ve rolled out two separate blogs on semiconductors and solar photovoltaics (solar/PV).

1. PC’s Semiconductors Blog

2. PC’s Solar Photovoltaics Blog

These blogs have been spun out off this very blog, my award winning blog!

Let me make it clear that Pradeep Chakraborty’s Blog — which only has original content, barring a few odd posts, will remain unchanged in quality and nature! It will continue to carry top-quality, world class content! In fact, I will now have to work doubly hard, as I’ve to try and keep up with all of those press releases 🙂

For now, these two new blogs include specific blog posts related to either semiconductors or solar/PV from my award winning blog, and other specific blog posts, as well as press releases, industry updates, statistics, etc. I will also add new product announcements, mergers and acquisitions, etc., as and when those happen — on to both of these blogs.

I am very grateful to my friends for this wonderful suggestion. As and when I roll out my technology portal, I will be having a readymade platform — of articles and releases to fall back on, and to grow it even further.

I would have loved to announce a further three additional blogs on FPGAs, embedded design and EDA as well. That may happen at a later date. Oh yes, an extra one on chip design trends.

You know what? I have a tremendous liking for telecom — a major weakness, as well as electronic components, electronics and photonics. Maybe, blogs on these are also in order, well, hopefully, sometime soon!

Thanks for your kind support, dear friends, readers, well wishers and all of those who simply give me a wealth of advice, as always. Suggestions for improvements are always welcome! You all know where and how to reach me! 🙂

Rolled out Telecoms Blog
PS: Dated April 25th, 2009 — My friends, I have rolled out a Telecoms Blog after all! Couldn’t resist staying away from an industry, which has played such a big role in my development as a technology writer, journalist and blogger.

I look forward to your warm support, as always.

Rolled out Electronics Blog
Urgent PS: Dated April 26, 2009 — Friends, I have also rolled out a brand new Electronics Blog! This is the area where I first started off as a technology journalist, and later, bloomed, while I was at Global Sources (2005-2006).

I will also try and include as many products and suppliers from the Greater China region, and help you source quality electronics products.

Thanks and look forward to your support as always. 🙂

SemiconWorld — social networking site for semicon professionals

March 14, 2009 Comments off

Friends, I have recently started a small social networking site — SemiconWorld (http://semiconworld.ning.com) — on Ning. SemiconWorld will aim to connect semiconductor and electronics professionals, and facilitate discussions on key business and other industry issues.

Ever since I started this blog, I have made several friends from all over the world! Most of them have gone on to have long discussions with me on semiconductors and electronics. So, when I looked around on the Internet, I found that there weren’t many social networking sites for semiconductor and electronics professionals. Hence, I thought of developing one.

Even as I have been developing this site, some good friends, such as Uma Mahesh Sir, Jo Kuo, Ms Poornima Shenoy of ISA, Sandip Dhawan, Alfred Cheng, Rahul Prabhakar, Ian Shelley, Priyanka Kalia, Kiran Kumar and Tiffany Yeh, have already joined the SemiconWorld network. A very warm thanks to all of you, folks!

It is always good to hear the perspectives and perceptions of others. That’s how I have tried to learn about the various technologies we read about all the time! And, I am still learning! It is my sincere hope and wish that my friends join me and we can have great and very useful discussions on various topics and issues related to these high-tech industries.

Why did I choose Ning for such a site? Well, I happen to be a member of the TelecomYou (www.telecomyou.com) network on Ning — a social networking site for telecom professionals. There, I found members participating in discussions and friendly chats, post blogs about various things, and even look for jobs! I don’t know how to add jobs to this site, but if someone can lead me to a site, which can allow me to post a job widget, I’d be glad to do so.

For those interested in events, Future Horizon’s International Electronics Forum (IEF) 2009, will be held from May 6 to May 8, 2009, in Geneva, Switzerland. I’ve added a link to event, in case you wish to look that up.

I have also provided several key industry links for those keen on looking up information related to semiconductors, electronics and technologies. I can add a whole lot of stuff on to this page. Maybe, all that will happen over a period of time. Till then, enjoy networking, dear friends! Hope you like SemiconWorld!

ISA Vision Summit 2009: Indian design influence, ideas to volume

February 28, 2009 Comments off

This post is slightly delayed given the fact that I’ve been travelling! Here it is: Session 2 of Day 1, ISA Vision Summit 2009!!

The still quite young, Indian semiconductor industry has come a long way! Making his opening remarks during the session: Indian Design Influence, Ideas to Volume, Jaswinder Ahuja, Corporate Vice President & MD, Cadence Design Systems India, and chairman, pointed out that earlier, it used to be ‘made by the world, FOR India.’ However, globalization of design has now put India on the world semiconductor map. Today, it is ‘made by the world, IN India.’

The picture here shows Ahuja making a point, while Freescale’s Ganesh Guruswamy, TI’s Dr. Bobby Mitra and Intel’s Praveen Vishakantaiah are all attention.

The electronics systems production is clearly moving eastward. Even though the chip fabs may not happen in India, systems manufacturing is certainly happening. The emerging markets today offer a $5 trillion opportunity. However, the transformative challenge is: how to marry low cost, good quality, sustainability and profitability simultaneously!

Fantastic opportunity for investing in technology
Praveen Vishakantaiah, President, Intel, added that India has a fantastic opportunity ahead for investing in technology. He cited Intel’s examples, such as: products designed in India for global market — Intel Xeon 7400 processor; designed in India for India and emerging markets — Classmate PC, which was prototyped in India; and designed in India and customized for the local market — PoS retail kiosk solution.

Internal factors related to volume development include: unique market needs, designing for reliability, enabling customers — standard globally but varied in India. External factors include: access to customers — which can be challenging in a varied market such as India, access to employable talent, predictable supply chain, robust infrastructure — digital infrastructure should scale simultaneously with design and development, and proactive policies and regulations.

According to Vishakantaiah, there is a need for a call to action and seize opportunities. This means, capitalizing on opportunities for local and global product designs, increase the impact and build end-to-end competencies, and to continue to move up the value chain. There is a need to address the internal factors. This would enable increasing the quality of products and extend local products into global markets. There is also a need to focus on the enabling the local market for global product companies.

As far as the external factors are concerned, there is a need to be proactive to remove barriers. There is a need to also encourage research, faculty development and new curriculum. India also needs to build energy efficient power, logistics and manufacturing capabilities, and also reduce e-waste and think green for all product designs.

Downturn creates huge opportunities
Ganesh Guruswamy, Director and Country Manager, Freescale Semiconductor India, remarked that even the deepest downturns can create huge opportunities for companies and countries. “Continuing to innovate during the downturn is important,” he added. It is therefore, time for India to step up, put the right innovations in place and grow.

He stressed upon several custom solutions for emerging markets, such as two-wheelers, which dominate, e-bikes, which are said to be the future, LED lamps, power inverters, irrigation pumpset powered by solar, smart energy meters, and solar/PV base station and carrier based equipment for telecom.

Medical tourism is an emerging focus area for India, as it is growing by 30 percent each year. Medical tourism is likely to bring $1-2 billion to India by 2012. In this context, Guruswamy highlighted Freescale’s ECG-on-a-chip solution. According to him, the way forward would involve moving away from a design mindset to a product mindset!

Don’t be dwarfed by glamorous industries!
Dr Bobby Mitra, MD, Texas Instruments India, said that India is witnessing a change in its semiconductors agenda — from R&D to R&D + market growth. If followed properly, it can become a game changing agenda. “India has nearly 2,000 OEMs designing electronics products. That’s the untapped potential,” he said.

Most of the customers are smaller companies — the proverbial long tail. They know semiconductors and electronics very well. Such companies need to be measured by the firebrand innovation going on at those places.

Dr. Mitra said: “The products have to be the right kind of products. If they are complex, it is incidental.” He cited defense and aerospace as very strong spaces, while industrial is also an equally strong opportunity area. “We should not be dwarfed by glamorous industries,” he cautioned.

In the near term, the Indian semiconductor industry needs to develop two new stripes. These are: a high degree of customer centricity so it can be brought into the R&D engineer’s minds, and have an application mindset — India is very good in design work; it now needs to develop applications in the current context.

Dr. Mitra also called upon having research as an agenda for the industry. This can be done in areas that would assume importance in future. “By working with customers, we can make products more intelligent, by adding electronics and semiconductors,” he advised. “All of us have a key role to play in this transformation.”

SMEs, in particular, have a major role to play. Intel’s Vishakantaiah said that MNCs would need to mentor and coach such companies. Freescale’s Guruswamy added that MNCs can either help them grow or buy them out.

Dr. Mitra advised that even if customers didn’t provide business, it would pay to remain close to them. He also referred to TI’s Beagle Board, an open and low-cost platform, which enables development of applications. However, he advised the industry to be realistic about mass customization.

FPGAs have adopted Moore’s Law more closely!

November 3, 2008 Comments off

How true! Field programmable gate arrays or FPGAs have become faster, denser and more complex over the years!

Speaking at the recently held Altera SOPC conference, S. Janakiraman, President and CEO-R&D Services, MindTree, and former chairman, India Semiconductor Association (ISA), said these had found acceptance in a wide range of market segments. “FPGAs are everywhere, be it telecom or industrial or medical,” he added.

Once relegated to simple glue logic design, FPGAs are challenging SoCs today. The million-gate FPGAs are, in fact, quite common. What’s more, ASSP like features, for example, PCI Express, USB, etc., have also found their way into FPGAs.

FPGAs have adopted Moore’s Law more closely than any other device technology! They even ‘help’ in ‘ratifying’ new process nodes.

Janakiraman said: “With the ever increasing costs of designs and declining ASIC starts, FPGAs offer a considerably less riskier approach, development costs, tools and testing – even at latest technology nodes.”

So what would be the factors driving change? These are multiple, and actually split into cost, performance, time-to-market and also field-upgradeable hardware.

From the cost aspect, functions in a system with standard ICs are performed by dedicated discrete components on a PCB. The FPGA route can reduce routing congestion and lower costs by enabling the use of smaller boards with less layers and lower component count.

Next comes performance, and a key factor in accelerating performance is parallel implementation. Here too the FPGA can be easily programmed to handle the same sequential instruction set by leveraging multiple micro-CPUs, connected by very wide internal buses.

Time-to-market has obviously become critical with the consumerization of electronics. As a result, the FPGAs are increasingly entering this segment because of the obvious advantages of early product introductions.

As for the field upgradeable hardware, Janakiraman elucidated an example: configuring video capture card for Europe (PAL), NA (NTSC), JAPAN (SECAM), need one hardware configuration with an FPGA on it. Depending on the location end-user downloads country specific driver that configures FPGA accordingly.

Jani Sir, as he is affectionately known, delivered the keynote at the Altera SOPC, which really touched upon how a fabless India was shining.

I also managed to catch up with Jordan Plofsky Senior Vice President Market, Altera. All I can add here as a sneak peek is: uncertainty favors FPGA’s usage! Let’s see how true — in my next blog!

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