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Jellyfish-like device can snatch cancer cells from the bloodstream

A new technology utilizing microfluidic biochips mimics how jellyfish catch food, in order to grab cancerous proteins from the blood stream.

It's been about a year since a collaboration between three universities created what is known as a microfluidic chip; essentially a laboratory on a glass biochip which with no electricity can separate blood plasma from blood cells, and then analyze the blood in a variety of sensors. Now, the same technology has been used to find a possible means of treating cancer.

Could this colorful picture represent the next great advancement in cancer treatment?


Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital has created a microfluidic chip where a sample of blood flows through a channel, and long strands of DNA have been dangled into this stream. The DNA strands grab onto cancerous proteins which flow past, behaving in the exact same way as jellyfish behave when they grab food in the ocean. The chip can even be made to release the proteins later for further study. Thus, the chip can be used both therapeutically and diagnostically. It's even possible to use the technology to isolate fetal cells, and most likely there will be other uses in the future as well.

At this point, the next step for the technology is human testing, meaning it's been quite far into the development stage already.

David F.
A grad student in experimental physics, David is fascinated by science, space and technology. When not buried in lecture books, he enjoys movies, gaming and mountainbiking

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