Researchers at Duke University have developed a prototype microfluidic device which uses acoustics to quickly examine the blood for traces of cancer and other diseases. This prototype device uses a combination of acoustic cell-sorting and microfluidic technologies to strain extremely tiny particles, exosomes from the blood sample. This technology can rapidly diagnose the patient’s blood samples and avoid the most commonly used cumbersome and time-consuming ultracentrifugation process. The study was published in the journal Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences with title “Isolation of exosomes from whole blood by integrating acoustics and microfluidics”.
Exosomes are tiny biological nanoscale packets, secreted by every type of cell in the body with an important function, cell-cell communication and disease transmission. These exosomes contain specific molecules that are a sign of certain abnormalities. It is very difficult to separate the exosomes from their native biological fluids and study them because of their miniscule size. Therefore this device helps in diagnosing and monitoring many disease conditions with a simple blood draw and liquid biopsy thus replacing tissue biopsy. This dual-stage technique has the ability to separate more than 80% of exosomes with 98% purity where the current methods can separate only 5-40 % only.
The device is portable and economical. This research will add a new dimension and could help researchers and clinicians to study more about the exosomes and form a base for diagnostic, therapeutic and health-monitoring devices.