Early detection and monitoring of diseases requires the ability to distinguish and isolate rare cells from a very large population of assorted cells. The perfect example are circulating cancer cells. There are only a handful of them among billions of healthy cells, but they are precursors to metastasis, the spread of cancer that causes over 90 percent of all cancer deaths.
Unfortunately, this technology is not fast enough to scan the billions of cells in the human body, therefore making early detection a highly inefficient and costly process.
A team of researchers led by Jalali and Dino Di Carlo, a UCLA associate professor of bioengineering, with expertise in optics and high-speed electronics, microfluidics, and biotechnology, has developed a high-throughput flow-through optical microscope with the ability to detect rare cells with sensitivity of one part per million in real time.
The new blood-screening technology boasts a throughput of 100,000 cells per second, approximately 100 times higher than conventional imaging-based blood analyzers.
“This technology can significantly reduce errors and costs in medical diagnosis,” said lead author Keisuke Goda, a UCLA program manager in electrical engineering and bioengineering.