A blood test by sound waves? New device protoyped

Posted Sep 24, 2017 by Tim Sandle
A new type of blood test, based on using sound waves, has been prototyped and the development could lead to a significant reduction in the time required to obtain a batch of medical tests.
Dry blood spot test on an infant.
Dry blood spot test on an infant.
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
The new type of analytical device has been developed by an international team of engineers and it is an example of the type of medical technology that can be fostered in partnership with academia and sold to pathology laboratories worldwide. The new device is capable of sifting very tiny particles (exosomes) from blood samples. The test means that samples, once taken from a patient, do not need to be sent away to a laboratory for analysis.
The device uses acoustic cell-sorting and microfluidic technologies. These technologies sort out "exosomes," which are biological nanoparticles released from every type of cell in the body. Exosomes play a role in cell-to-cell communication and disease transmission. With infections, exosomes are attributed to the spread of proteins, lipids, mRNA, miRNA and DNA and as contributing factors in the development of several diseases.
Exosomes - key to diseases
While exosomes are of medical interest, isolating them is not straightforward and the process is lengthy. Most practices involve spinning samples in a centrifuge, which takes several hours; moreover, this carries the risk of damaging the exosomes due to the very high gravitational forces of the centrifuge, leading to a null diagnosis.
How does the device work?
This is why there is considerable interest in the new device. The device is an automated, point-of-care system that enables single-step, on-chip isolation of exosomes from whole biological fluids with good purity and a high yield. Analysis is achieved by tailoring the angle and frequency of sound waves to the length of the channel and size of the exosomes. The lead researcher behind this is Professor Tony Jun Huang, from Duke University in the U.S.
Further details can be seen in this video:
The new technology could be the beginning of a boon for scientific research and for everyday medical applications. The device has been described in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, with the research paper titled "Isolation of exosomes from whole blood by integrating acoustics and microfluidics."