Cancer Detection Breakthrough at KU

A new ultrasensitive diagnostic device invented by researchers at the University of Kansas, The University of Kansas Cancer Center and KU Medical Center could allow doctors to detect cancer quickly from a droplet of blood or plasma, leading to timelier interventions and better outcomes for patients. The “lab-on-a-chip” for “liquid biopsy” analysis, reported today in Nature Biomedical Engineering, detects exosomes — tiny parcels of biological information produced by tumor cells to stimulate tumor growth or metastasize. “Historically, people thought exosomes were like ‘trash bags’ that cells could use to dump unwanted cellular contents,” said lead author Yong Zeng, Docking Family Scholar and associate professor of chemistry at KU. “But in the past decade, scientists realized they were quite useful for sending messages to recipient cells and communicating molecular information important in many biological functions. Basically, tumors send out exosomes packaging active molecules that mirror the biological features of the parental cells. While all cells produce exosomes, tumor cells are really active compared to normal cells.” The new lab-on-a-chip’s key innovation is a 3D nanoengineering method that mixes and senses biological elements based on a herringbone pattern commonly found in nature, pushing exosomes into contact with the chip’s sensing surface much more efficiently in a process called “mass transfer.” “People have developed smart ideas to improve mass transfer in microscale channels, but when particles are moving closer to the sensor surface, they’re separated by a small gap of liquid that creates increasing hydrodynamic resistance,” Zeng said. Read more here >>>

thumbnail courtesy of ksal.com

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