Chemotherapy is challenging for patients, as it can be terribly brutal on their bodies, but also for physicians trying to figure out which medication to deliver. Now, a new device has been developed at Rutgers University that can test whether a given chemo agent works on a patient’s specific tumor.
The idea is that a tumor biopsy is used to seed the device. Chemo agents are then added to see whether they kill the patient’s tumor cells. This is measured using a special biosensor that relies on multifrequency impedance spectroscopy to test whether a cell is alive or dead. The sensor feeds its readings into an artificial intelligence software platform that uses previously gathered knowledge to characterize each cell.
In their initial studies so far, the team’s approach is over 95% accurate at counting live cancer cells. The results are nearly instantaneous, which in a clinical setting may give physicians the option to begin treating patients right after their biopsy is complete. Currently, staining and other relevant processes slow down how fast cells can be characterized, so the new technology has great potential for patients.
The Rutgers team plans to start testing their system with actual patients very soon, in the hope of proving the practical effectiveness of their system.
Open access study in journal Microsystems & Nanoengineering: Toward point-of-care assessment of patient response: a portable tool for rapidly assessing cancer drug efficacy using multifrequency impedance cytometry and supervised machine learning