Researchers from the University of Michigan have developed and are now testing a device they call “the epitome of precision medicine” that detects cancer in circulating blood.
Nobody wants to have a biopsy,” says Dr. Daniel Hayes, Professor of Breast Cancer Research at the University of Michigan Rogel Cancer Center in Ann Arbor. But, Dr. Hayes suggests, “If we could get enough cancer cells from the blood, we could use them to learn about the tumor biology and direct care for the patients.”
Dr. Hayes and his team have recently developed a wearable device that can “filter” circulating blood for cancer cells that — if it passes all the tests — could replace liquid biopsies where healthcare professionals take blood or urine samples from individuals to look for markers of cancer.
For the time being, the team has tested this device in dogs .The researchers found that the wearable device identified and collected 3.5 times more cancer cells per milliliter of blood than the same chip did when “scanning” blood samples in vitro.
While the new device has so far shown a lot of promise, Dr. Hayes believes that there is still a while to go until it becomes available to humans. He estimates that the team may be able to conduct clinical trials in human participants within 3 to 5 years.