After the losing his wife to cancer in 2012 an analytical biochemist devoted his time to learning more about the disease that ravages so many households.
With the help of his two sons, he has designed a device that can detect the most dangerous cancer cells, cancer stem cells.
Currently, in oncology there is an increasing, but not total, recognition of the destructive role of cancer stem cells. Some researchers believe that cancer stem cells possess distinct characteristics that allow them to seed an entire new tumor from just a few cells or perhaps only one.
That theory is very significant for an accurate diagnosis. Drugs that inhibit most cancer cells but fail to find the cancer stem cells are not as effective.
Cancer centers are researching the validity of cancer stem cells, unfortunately the technology is slow and expensive.
The device is still in the concept phase, but scientists have affirmed that the theory and technology is feasible.
The device is a microchip that examines a patient’s blood sample in order to identify and isolate cancer stem cells. These cells are then genetically sequenced to find the mutations driving the cancer. Doctors would then be able to prescribe the most customized treatment based on this more rigorous analysis.
The chip will be designed to work with more than blood, because cancer stem cells circulating in the bloodstream can be rare. The chip envisioned would also be able to screen tissue samples such as lymph node biopsies.
This is a novel approach that has quite a lot of potential. Under the right circumstance it could really move things along in the field of oncology.
The concept combines micro-fluidics with antibody technology and dissolvable gel. The chip would have tiny channels from blood to flow into. The channels would be coated with a gel containing antibodies that attach to antigens or proteins commonly found in cancer stem cells.
Currently the work is being down out of the family home, but the plan is to collaborate with a professor at San Diego State University and move the experiment to an available lab space.
In order to follow through with the envisioned device, the analytical biochemist is raising $50,000. He has also formed a company, TumorGen MDx.
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