Researchers at the University of Michigan have developed a prototype wearable device that connects to a vein in the arm and continuously collects live cancer cells from a patient’s blood, screening much larger volumes, and could provide better information for planning treatments than those from a conventional biopsy. The blood pump sits in the top left corner of the device and the heparin injector runs along the near side. The green circuit boards control the blood pump, heparin injector and provide display data.
Sunitha Nagrath, Ph.D., associate professor of chemical engineering at U-M, who led the development of the device, said: “It’s the difference between having a security camera that takes a snapshot of a door every five minutes or takes a video. If an intruder enters between the snapshots, you wouldn’t know about it.”
“Wearable device could diagnose and treat cancer more effectively“
Tae Hyun Kim, postdoctoral scholar at the California Institute of Technology, said: “The most challenging parts were integrating all of the components into a single device and then ensuring that the blood would not clot, that the cells would not clog up the chip, and that the entire device is completely sterile.”
Daniel F. Hayes, M.D., the Stuart B. Padnos Professor of Breast Cancer Research at the University of Michigan Rogel Cancer Center and senior author on the paper in Nature Communications, said: “Nobody wants to have a biopsy. If we could get enough cancer cells from the blood, we could use them to learn about the tumour biology and direct care for the patients. That’s the excitement of why we’re doing this.”