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Harvard, Mass General create low-cost chip to monitor response to ovarian cancer treatment

Tuesday, March 04 2014 | Comments
Evidence Grade 0 What's This?
Researchers at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital created a microchip device that captures, isolates and identifies tumor cells from ascites (ACT), an accumulation of fluid in the abdomen that often occurs in abdominal cancers, without the need for expensive medical laboratory equipment.

The ACT chips use a "liquid biopsy" technology to enable point-of-care monitoring of patients undergoing treatment for ovarian cancer.

Using the ACT chip, researchers were able to tell which patients' tumors responded to treatment and which had not responded to treatment.

"We were able to demonstrate that simply squirting small amounts of otherwise discarded ACT fluid into our device allowed us to quantify tumor cells and explore mechanistic markers of tumor progression without the need to process liters of ascites with advanced instrumentation not readily available in many community hospitals," said Dr. Cesar Castro, instructor in medicine at Massachusetts General.

"Moreover, achieving point-of-care readouts of tumor cell markers from repeatedly collected ascites at different time points could allow for frequent monitoring of treatment response without having to wait for the next imaging scan."

The researchers estimated that this technology could cost as little as $1 per test if cleared for use in clinical settings.

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