A team of researchers at the University of New South Wales have developed a new system that can potentially lower the cost of cancer treatment as well as reduce the risk of cancer spreading by cleaning cancer from the blood.
The new cancer treatment uses biochip filters that identify and remove cancer cells. The team refers to the technique as “dialysis for cancer.” For patients who are in the early stages of cancer treatment, the process can be used to lower the chance of cancer metastasizing by using the method to cleanse the blood of circulating tumor cells.
“We are simply getting the blood from the patient, it’s a mixture of normal blood cells and cancer cells,” describes Dr. Majid Warkiani, who leads the team of researchers. “We put it inside one of our biochips and the cells go under migration, and they get affected by hydrodynamic forces. Under those forces that we are applying to the cells inside the chip, the bigger cells go up to the cancer cell outlet, and the smaller cells get pushed down and essentially they get fractionated, they get separated.”
Cancer patients require regular scans to ensure that their tumors are shrinking; these scans tend to cost around $700. This new producer, using the biochip to track and monitor the level of cancer cells in a patient’s blood, could offer patients the same level of efficiency at a fraction of the price: costing anywhere from $50 to $100.
This revolutionary method comes on the heels of a different cancer-research development that can hopefully provide a way to effectively manage, if not eradicate, the disease.
“There is still a long way to go – including securing money and support in Australia – before this is possible,” Warkiani adds. With proper funding and support, it is expected that the study will be rolled out in Australian hospitals within a couple of years. The team is hopeful that this discovery can make inroads in cancer research and management.