12 June 2009

Clever $20 Disposable Cartridge Blood Test Quickly Detects Virtually Any Type of Cancer

Raj Krishnan, a graduate bioengineering student at UCSD, has developed an inexpensive electrophoretic device that promises to detect virtually any type of cancer in the body with a quick, cheap, blood test. Such an inexpensive, broad spectrum cancer screen has been the holy grail of preventive medicine and medical screening for decades.
Cancers that are detected early have the best chance of being cured but, until now, there were no methods of detecting cancer at its earliest stages. Raj Krishnan, a PhD student in bioengineering at the University of California San Diego (UCSD), has created a technology for the early diagnosis of cancer, giving new hope and possibility to cures that have eluded cancer victims for years because their diagnoses were too late.

Krishnan focused his study on the DNA that roams cell-free in the blood as cancers develop, trying to figure out how to separate out the nanoparticles of DNA without degrading them. These nanoparticles are between 5 and 50 nanometers in size, smaller than the wavelength of light.

As Krishnan's professor, Michael Heller, noted: “It’s very difficult to find [cell-free DNA] in blood. The analogy of needle in the haystack has been used, but I’d say it’s more like looking for a needle on the whole farm.”

Actually, it was harder than that, because Krishnan was bucking a process -- using electric field techniques -- that other researchers in the field had "proven" would not work. Krishnan was able to find the right circumstances under which the DNA could be isolated in tact with electric field technology, and he demonstrated it!

Even Professor Heller was dubious about the discovery and spent six months, along with Krishnan, trying to figure out why no one else had discovered it. Then, finally convinced, Heller, Krishnan, and fellow grad students David Charlot and Roy Lefkowitz filed the patent applications, and founded a company, Biological Dynamics, to move their diagnostic technology into clinics.

Their product is a cost-effective blood test that takes less than 30 minutes and detects almost every cancer type. Their business plans call for developing two products: a blood analyzing system which will be priced at approximately $20,000 and disposable electrode cartridges to do the tests, priced at about $20. _Investorspot_via_Impactlab
Easy detection of a wide range of cancers will allow for earlier intervention in the curable stage of most cancers. Some cancers will remain incurable, no matter the stage of detection, and other cancers might be best ignored -- such as low grade prostate cancers in elderly men. Optimal screening schedules would depend upon age, sex, and family history.

But a highly accurate $20 blood test is a much cheaper screen than a colonoscopy, mammography, CT scans, nuclear medicine scans, MRI, exploratory surgery, and any number of other methods of screening, or of ruling out malignancy. In the catastrophically expensive atmosphere of "defensive medicine" created in the US by out-of-control trial lawyers, any reliable way of avoiding testing that can easily cost tens of thousands of dollars, would be helpful.


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Blogger kurt9 said...

We'll see how long it takes for the FDA and the AMA medical boards to accept this new technology. The problem with medicine in the U.S. (and much of the rest of the world) is that it is based on fascist top-down control. People are not free to innovate as they are, say, in semiconductors and computers.

Friday, 12 June, 2009  
Blogger al fin said...

Top down bureaucratic control does slow innovation in medicine.

But plain old trial lawyers and tort court judges and their political allies have driven the huge runup in medical expenditures known as "defensive medicine."

The same gang of brigands is also responsible for reducing innovation in the commercial and industrial sector -- and for limiting many recreational opportunities.

There is no "one problem" with medicine in the US -- or with medicine anywhere. There are a lot of problems, all of which are quite predictable to anyone with an intuitive grasp of political and economic behaviour.

Friday, 12 June, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Even after governments say it is acceptable, hospitals will want to test it against their regular tests and reference tests to show that it really is superior in specificity and sensitivity. It is believed by many that all people have cancerous cells appearing from time to time and it only is a problem if the systems which deal with these cells get fooled or don't function well. If DNA from cancer cells which are properly dealt with are detected it could create a false positive rate that would need to be assessed.

I am not saying that is likely and even if it is this could still make for a powerful screening tool but knowing where the method fits in the diagnostic process will be something hospitals will want to assess.

Friday, 12 June, 2009  

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