Single cancer cell can be detected using sensitive microchip

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Cancer is the second-leading cause of death in the United States. Cancer is characterized by the development of abnormal cells that divide uncontrollably and have the ability destroy normal body tissues.  To diagnose the cancer, doctors typically analyze urine and blood tests, imaging tests like CT scan, MRI and Biopsy. Recently US researchers announced that they are developing a revolutionary blood test in collaboration with Johnson & Johnson that can detect single cancer cell in the blood. The new test is expected to be easier, simpler and more accurate than traditional methods.

Single Cancer Cell Test

Massachusetts General Hospital and health care giant J&J have entered into an agreement to develop technology that could detect even a single cancer cell floating in a person’s blood. J&J has invested a $30 million into this project that may offer a key to noninvasive characterization of cancer.

As of now, biopsy an invasive and sometimes hazardous procedure is one of the few procedures doctors perform to characterize and size the tumor. Researchers are hoping that new test will be non-invasive, non-painful, easier and more accurate to detect the cancer state and could even replace conventional biopsy.

Mass General’s Dr. Daniel Haber, one of the inventors, told the Associated Press, “This is like a liquid biopsy.” The test uses microchip resembling a lab slide covered in 78,000 tiny posts. Each post is coated with antibodies that grab cancer cells from the blood. Those cells can be analyzed in detail as well...



as counted. To perform the test only a teaspoon full of patient’s blood sample is required.

 

Dr. Christopher Logothetis with the University of Texas Anderson M.D. Anderson Cancer Center said “It would be most helpful for patients with prostate, bladder, colon, kidney and lung cancer, in addition to breast cancers.”

The new test is still years away to be available. Researchers are expecting to have the test available in three- five years.

According to the AP, four major cancer centers, namely Mass General, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, will begin studies using the new test this year. 

The new test looks promising and if everything goes well can revolutionize the cancer diagnosis process. I am sure many healthcare professionals look forward to receive more information on the blood test that can detect the cancer cells so minutely with just couple of blood drops.  

Source: Business Week

 

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