In a remarkable development, researchers in the United States have invented a device that helps doctors detect cancer faster by simply using a blood drop or plasma, thus making it less invasive and much cheaper.
The device is known as lab-on-a-chip and was developed by Yong Zeng, Associate Professor at the University of Kansas, and his team.
Here’s more on this.
Device detects exosomes by tumor cells which carry biological information
The device detects exosomes, tiny parcels produced by tumor cells which carry biological information and helps in stimulating tumor growth. Tumor cells produce exosomes along with active molecules which have tumors’ biological features. Although all cells produce exosomes, tumor cells are more active than normal cells.
Device pushes exosomes to come into contact with sensor surface
The device uses a 3D nano-engineering method that senses biological elements on a particular pattern (herringbone), which is commonly found in nature.
It then pushes exosomes so that they come in contact with the chip’s sensing surface more efficiently.
This process is called mass transfer.
Zeng mentioned that usually during mass transfer, the chip and sensor surface get separated by a liquid gap.
Device lets liquid gap drain helping in bringing exosomes closer
Zeng further explained that the device has a herringbone structure that drains the liquid gap and thus “bring the particles (exosomes) in hard contact with the surface where probes can recognize and capture them.”
The team tested the device using clinical samples from ovarian cancer patients.
It found that the device can detect cancer presence even in a minute amount of plasma.
Zeng says device will help in detecting several other diseases
Moreover, these devices are easier and cheaper to make and patients will be charged reasonably for testing.
After successfully detecting ovarian cancer, Zeng said the device can be useful in detecting many other diseases.
“Almost all mammalian cells release exosomes, so the application isn’t just limited to ovarian cancer…We’re working with people to look at Neurodegenerative diseases, breast, and colorectal cancers,” he said.