Measure alterations in the skin

SciBase improves the reliability of malignant melanoma diagnoses. The technique is used by skin doctors to support decision-making as an alternative to biopsies in cases of suspected skin cancer.

Photo of woman examining the skin on a man's back.
Photo: Getty Images

“Diagnoses are always made by a responsible doctor, but our technique can considerably improve safety and reliability,” says Stig Ollmar, currently attached to the Department of Clinical Science, Intervention and Technology at Karolinska Institutet.

SciBase instruments use microscopic gold-plated plastic bristles that are placed against areas of suspected skin alteration to measure the skin’s electrical characteristics. After about 10 seconds, a reading is given on the likelihood of a melanoma on a scale of one to 10.

Technological development of the method has continued since the 1980s. It all started when Ollmar was asked whether he could develop a way of measuring how different dental restorative materials affect mucous in the mouth.

“Measuring impedance seemed the most promising approach.”

A prototype was soon ready. After further research, the technique could be used to measure alterations in the skin. “When we saw how we could measure a difference between irritated and healthy skin - that was a real “wow” moment. After that we decided to go after the hardest target we could think of: malignant melanoma,” he explains.

Approved in the US

SciBase was established in 1998 with the help of, among others, the Knowledge Foundation. Subsequent innovations have improved the method further and the technology was validated in a number of clinical studies. In 2015, the company was listed and in 2017, the technology was approved in the US. To date, SciBase is better known outside Sweden, but Ollmar hopes that the technique will soon be also accepted by local healthcare authorities in Sweden.

“You should never give up because someone else says what you want to do is impossible. You can always go further, but rarely in ways that you envisaged when you started,” says Ollmar.

Content reviewer:
Sabina Bossi