According to Dr Shashi K. Murthy of the Department of Chemical Engineering at Northeastern University in Boston, soon all medics may need will be a single drop of blood to test a patient's risk of developing heart disease.
A team of researchers from Harvard and Northeastern universities in Boston have come up with a new credit card-sized device that may help physicians to monitor heart disease and help grow new vascular tissue for transplants.
They showed how this device can measure and collect a type of cells needed to build vascular tissue, called endothelial progenitor cells, using only 200 microliters of blood.
"This simple device is a promising tool for the pediatric and adult population in detecting, diagnosing, monitoring, and providing the option of treating cardiovascular disease by utilizing a small quantity of blood," said Dr Murthy.
The device works similar to Velcro or a magnet. The inside is coated with antibodies that only bind to endothelial progenitor cells. Blood flows through the device through a funnel-like opening and passes over the antibodies, and endothelial progenitor cells are "picked up" in the process.
In addition to allowing researchers to collect cells from a very small amount of blood, the device's design also provides researchers with a new model to study the effects that blood flow in the body has on cell binding (like clots form in arteries).
"Most immediately, this is could be a new tool to assess cardiovascular health that cuts the amount of blood needed down to a pin prick. Its compact size might make it an excellent tool for use in developing countries where access to medical laboratories does not exist," said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal.
The study appears in The FASEB Journal.