According to a new study published in the journal Royal Society of Chemistry, researchers at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kansas, have developed a "lab-on-a-chip" that can detect lung cancer much earlier than an invasive biopsy with only a small drop of blood.
The a "lab-on-a-chip" device uses microfluid technology that will analyze the nucleic acids and proteins in certain exosomes, small vesicles of molecules that cells release. Their device has already been successfully tested on lung cancer.
The "lab-on-a-chip" device uses smaller samples and is cheaper, faster, and more sensitive than a traditional instruments used in a laboratory. Unlike breast and colon cancer, lung cancer does not have a widely used screening tool, and most cases of lung cancer are diagnosed after invasive biopsies. This blood test is noninvasive, inexpensive, and more sensitive, and would be an effective screening tool for a large population to detect early-stage lung cancers.
The researchers have tested the device in both lung and ovarian cancer, and hope to test it in other cancers as well. The team has received funding from the National Cancer Institute to further develop the device.
At present, diagnosis of lung cancer relies on an invasive biopsy that is only effective after tumors are bigger than 3 cm or even metastatic. Earlier detection would vastly improve patients’ chances of survival. Now a team of researchers is developing a “lab-on-a-chip” that promises to detect lung cancer – and possibly other deadly cancers – much earlier, using only a small drop of a patient’s blood.
In the Royal Society of Chemistry journal, Yong Zeng, assistant professor of chemistry at the University of Kansas, and colleagues report a breakthrough study describing their invention.