Disease detection and health examination through blood testing has been a major area of research and investment. For those who remember the company Theranos, it was silicon valley’s biggest flop that raised more than $700 million based on claims about low cost and effective blood testing. Overall, there is a huge demand for breakthrough technology in this area.
Researchers at the University of Kansas have developed a low cost device known as “3-D-nanopatterned microfluidic chip” that is ultrasensitive to detecting cancer cells.
In a paper published in journal of Nature Biomedical Engineering, researcher Yong Zeng details the method in which the product filters for exosomes, which are tiny vescicles that cells produce. This is significant because tumor cells are more active at producing exosomes than normal cells, and these exosomes contain information about the parent cells, along with info on tumor growth and spread.
The researchers tested the technology on ovarian cancer, which is very hard to detect, in the early stages, and the technology proved to be very effective, detecting cancer cells in even a tiny drop of plasma
The product set up does not require any fancy equipment. Yong Zeng describes that the product could even be used in undergraduate or high school labs.
This paves a new path for detection for stages of cancer that were not previously possible (and at a cheaper cost as well). This creates a whole new market of people who were previously NOT served by conventional testing methods, and could a massive adoption throughout the hospital systems over conventional means.