Listen to this article Treatment Of Cancer New Detection And Treatment Technology
Researchers at the University of Technology Sydney have developed an innovative device that has the potential to revolutionize cancer detection and treatment. The device can detect and analyze cancer cells from blood samples, making it possible for doctors to avoid invasive biopsy surgeries and monitor treatment progress more efficiently.
The Significance of the Device
Cancer is a leading cause of illness and death in Australia, with more than 150,000 Australians diagnosed every year. Those with suspected cancer, particularly in organs such as the liver, colon, or kidney, often require surgery for a definitive diagnosis. However, getting a biopsy can cause discomfort to patients, as well as an increased risk of complications due to surgery and higher costs. An accurate cancer diagnosis is vital to effective treatment.
According to Professor Majid Warkiani from the UTS School of Biomedical Engineering, “Managing cancer through the assessment of tumor cells in blood samples is far less invasive than taking tissue biopsies. It allows doctors to do repeat tests and monitor a patient’s response to treatment.”
The Development of the Device
The Static Droplet Microfluidic device, which was developed by the UTS research team, utilizes a unique metabolic signature of cancer to differentiate tumor cells from normal blood cells. As a result, it can quickly detect circulating tumor cells that have broken away from a primary tumor and entered the bloodstream. Furthermore, the device is intended to be easily integrated into research and clinical labs, and it doesn’t require high-end equipment or trained operators. This makes it a practical and cost-effective tool that doctors can use to diagnose and monitor cancer patients.
The Process Involved
The researchers have just published the study titled “Rapid metabolomic screening of cancer cells via high-throughput static droplet microfluidics” in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Biosensors and Bioelectronics.
“In the 1920s, Otto Warburg discovered that cancer cells consume a lot of glucose and so produce more lactate. Our device monitors single cells for increased lactate using pH-sensitive fluorescent dyes that detect acidification around cells,” said Professor Warkiani.
The device has 38,400 chambers capable of isolating and classifying the number of metabolically active tumor cells. Once the tumor cells are identified with the device, they can undergo genetic and molecular analysis, which can aid in the diagnosis and classification of the cancer and inform personalized treatment plans.
The Potential of the Device
Circulating tumor cells are also precursors of metastasis – where cancer migrates to distant organs – which is the cause of 90% of cancer-associated deaths. Studying these cells may provide insights into the biology of cancer metastasis, which can inform the development of new treatments.
Existing liquid biopsy technologies are time-consuming, expensive and rely on skilled operators, limiting their application in clinical settings. The new detection technology has the potential to overcome these limitations and enable doctors to diagnose and monitor cancer patients more efficiently.
The Future of the Device
The UTS research team has filed a provisional patent for the Static Droplet Microfluidic device and has plans to commercialize the product. With further development and refinement, this innovative technology could significantly improve cancer diagnosis and treatment, helping to save lives and reduce the burden of cancer worldwide.