PWS Nanocytology

The PWS Nanocytology Platform

Cancer is caused by an uncontrolled division of abnormal (mutated) cells in a part of the body. The current gold-standard approach to diagnose cancer is to send biopsied cells to a lab, where a pathologist looks for cellular changes at the microscopic (“micro”) level.  Preora’s proprietary, automated technology platform, Partial Wave Spectroscopy (PWS) Nanocytology, examines cells at the nanoscale (“nano”) level, where mutations and cellular changes can be detected long before they are evident at the micro level.

In fact, cells may appear to be normal to technicians using standard microscopy, but PWS can detect profound changes in the nanoscale architecture of the same cells. PWS measures the disorder strength of the nanoscale organization of the cell, which the Preora team has determined to be one of the earliest signs of carcinogenesis, likely making it a strong and clinically significant biomarker for the presence of cancer. PWS enables a paradigm shift, in that we don’t need to examine the tumor itself to stratify the cancer risk for an individual patient. (See Field Effect below for why surrogate cells are clinically relevant in cancer).

Preora’s long-term goal is to develop the PWS platform to serve as a highly accurate, low-cost, non-invasive testing to identify which patients are likely to benefit from gold-standard cancer diagnostic procedures.

PWS Nanocytology Detects Cellular Changes Long Before They're Evident at the "Micro" Level

Field Effect

The concept of the “field effect” (synonymous with “field carcinogenesis” and “field of injury”) originated in a 1953 study of 783 patients in which the healthy tissue surrounding tumors of the lip, oral cavity, and pharynx the cancer cells displayed abnormalities suggesting a carcinogenic agent had preconditioned the areas.

Over the following six decades, the research community has expanded the field effect to mean that the genetic/environmental setting that results in carcinogenesis can also be discovered by its impact in altering non-cancerous, histologically normal cells nearby and in other areas of the body. The field effect concept is biologically robust and widely used in clinical practice among multiple cancer types.

First, the field effect suggests that molecular and cellular alterations predispose regions of the body to tumor growth. Thus, by examining and quantifying these alterations, Preora is able to detect the risk of cancer earlier than standard procedures that rely on visualizing the cancer cells.

Second, the field effect indicates that cancer risk in certain organs can be determined through genetic changes happening at surrogate anatomical or functional sites. This implies that rather than examining cells in the target organ where it may be difficult to get an adequate sample, we can assess them in other parts of the body through more minimally invasive procedures.

We have demonstrated PWS-detectable nanoscale field-effect alterations associated with cancers of the lung, colon, prostate, ovarian, pancreas and esophagus. Our company’s vision is to utilize the concept of the field effect to commercialize screening tests that can become the first step in a two-tiered early-detection approach applicable to almost any organ from which cellular specimen can be obtained by standard brushing or secretion-collection techniques.,

By detecting field carcinogenesis, PWS-based screening tests may help identify early cancer indicators that give physicians the information that they need to encourage patients to comply with national screening guidelines in order to both maximize early detection and avoid unnecessary procedures.

Field Effect

Harnessing the Field Effect with PWS Nanocytology

Preora Chairman Vadim Backman explained how the company’s technology capitalizes on the Field Effect during his presentation to the Milken Institute


Over the past eight years, Preora’s collaborators (Northwestern University and NanoCytology LLC) have had 30 research papers published in peer-reviewed journals. These data have informed our goal to help millions of people survive cancer, develop our proprietary Partial Wave Spectroscopy (PWS) Nanocytology platform, and sharpen our focus on potential clinical applications.

We are committed to continuing to contribute to the medical community’s understanding of and appreciation for the science of nanocytology and potential clinical benefits of our technology platform.

Research Papers and Presentations