A new ultra-sensitive diagnostic device invented by researchers at the University of Kansas, The University of Kansas Cancer Center, and the 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 online on February 25, 2019 in Nature Biomedical Engineering, detects exosomes — tiny parcels of biological information produced by tumor cells to stimulate tumor growth or metastasize (Editor’s note: exosomes are also released by all other cells that have been studied, but tend to be produced in greater quantities by cancer cells). The article is titled “Ultrasensitive Detection of Circulating Exosomes with a 3D-Nanopatterned Microfluidic Chip.” “Historically, people thought exosomes were like ‘trash bags’ that cells could use to dump unwanted cellular contents,” said lead author Yong Zeng, PhD, 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.
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