New Hand-Held Device Can Read Crucial Cancer Biomarker Levels

A new hand-held device can monitor crucial cancer biomarkers, saving lives amid COVID-19.
Brad Bergan

Researchers invented a new hand-held device capable of measuring a crucial biomarker for cancer — opening the door for home-based cancer monitoring technology and improving access for diagnostic protocols, according to a recent study published in the journal Angewandte Chemie.


New hand-held device measures crucial cancer biomarkers

The new device functions like monitors diabetic use to measure their blood-sugar levels — and can be used either at home or in medical clinics, without any lab work, Science Daily reports. This is significant because it provides much-needed simplification to blood testing processes aiming to identify key signatures of cancer.

It works when a user mixes a droplet of blood in a vial of reactive liquid, then places the mixture onto a thin strip to insert into a reader. After only a few minutes, the device then measures an antigen revealing the magnitude of a cancer case.

The device prototype was designed to monitor prostate-specific antigen (PSA), and is capable of measuring other markers — depending on what kind of cancer, or type of chronic disease ails the user.

New biomarker device monitors health after treatment

Collecting vital medical information from home could greatly improve patients' lives, while also providing shareable, accurate, and near-instantaneous results to guide doctors in shaping care and treatment — all at a much cheaper price than the current cost of the U.S. health-care system.

Notably, the device allows patients to monitor their health once treatment is completed.

The prototype comes from a research collaboration under the leadership of McMaster's Leyla Soleymani — a biomedical engineer and Canada Research Chair in Miniaturized Biomedical Devices — along with Brock University's Feng Li — an associate professor of chemistry in charge of a bioanalytical chemistry lab.

Soleymani's team — which includes Richa Pandey and Sarah Traynor — created the hardware, consisting of the chip that reads blood samples. Li's team (which includes Guan Wang) was responsible for the sample-analyzing technology.

Device could save cancer patient lives amid COVID-19

"This is another step toward truly personalized medicine," said Soleymani. "We're getting away from centralized, lab-based equipment for this kind of testing. This would make monitoring much more accessible and cut down on the number of times patients need to leave home to provide blood samples."

"Once commercialized, this device will be a paradigm shift for cancer diagnosis and prognosis," said Li, reports Science Daily. "Since this device is a lot more accessible and user-friendly than conventional technologies, patients will be more willing to use it, which can improve clinical outcomes and save lives."

This latest work serves as proof-of-concept work for a device capable of saving lives in the time of the COVID-19 coronavirus — when countless patients suffering from chronic diseases are quarantined at home or unable to access crucial medical services.

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