This 3D-printed device can detect cancer in a patient’s blood sample

The goal of creating personalized cancer treatment just got a big boost after scientists developed a device that weeds out blood cells to find cancer.

In a new report, researchers outlined their new method which uses 3D-printed cell traps to separate cancer cells from billions of blood cells in a patient sample. Trapping the white blood cells—which are about the size of cancer cells—and filtering out smaller red blood cells leaves behind the tumor cells, which could be useful in diagnosing disease, potentially providing early warning of recurrence, and enabling research into the cancer metastasis process.

The researchers tested their approach by adding cancer cells to blood from healthy people. Because they knew how many cells were added, they could tell how many they should extract, and the experiment showed the trap could capture around 90% of the tumor cells. By allowing rapid and low-cost separation of tumor cells circulating in the bloodstream, doctors could gain extremely accurate insights into a patient’s cancer and provide treatment accordingly.

While it will surely take some time before this device becomes widely adopted, it’s incredible to see 3D-printed technology helping make big advances in the medical field.

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