MIT Develops Device for Cancer Patients Undergoing Chemotherapy

Leuko, founded by a research team at MIT has developed a medical device that allows doctors to monitor cancer patients' health during chemotherapy
Now according to a study done at MIT, Leuko is developing a new portable device which is an at-home white blood cell monitor that'll help doctors spot life-threatening infections in cancer patients (Unsplash)
Now according to a study done at MIT, Leuko is developing a new portable device which is an at-home white blood cell monitor that'll help doctors spot life-threatening infections in cancer patients (Unsplash)

A U.S.A based firm named Leuko that is founded by a research team at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), has developed a medical device that can give doctors a non-invasive way to monitor cancer patients' health during chemotherapy, without any need for blood tests.

Chemotherapy and other cancer treatments, destroy cancer cells but at the same time can negate the patient's immune cells. Every year, this weakens the patient's immune system and the chances of infections turning deadly become quite high.

Instead of drawing blood, this device uses light to look through the skin at the top of the fingernail, and artificial intelligence to analyze and detect when white blood cells reach dangerously low levels i.e. neutropenia.
Carlos Castro-Gonzalez, Leuko co-founder and CEO and a former postdoctorate at MIT

Sometimes, this can also lead to severe conditions. There have been cases where the patient's white blood cell (WBC) count gets dangerously low i.e. neutropenia and the only way for doctors to monitor their patient's white blood cells is through blood tests.

This makes it quite important for doctors to find a balance between both issues. They need to make sure the patient gets enough chemotherapy treatment but at the same time, the patient should not suffer from neutropenia. Patients can feel socially isolated during such chemotherapy rounds.

Currently, the only way for doctors to monitor their patients’ white blood cells is through blood tests.

Now according to a study done at MIT, Leuko is developing a new portable device which is an at-home white blood cell monitor that'll help doctors spot life-threatening infections in cancer patients remotely and give a complete patients' health view.

Instead of drawing blood, this device uses light to look through the skin at the top of the fingernail, and artificial intelligence to analyze and detect when white blood cells reach dangerously low levels i.e. neutropenia.

The researchers at MIT first conceived this technology in 2015. Eventually, they developed a prototype and conducted a small clinical study of 11 patients undergoing chemo to validate the theory. (Representational image, Unsplash)
The researchers at MIT first conceived this technology in 2015. Eventually, they developed a prototype and conducted a small clinical study of 11 patients undergoing chemo to validate the theory. (Representational image, Unsplash)

The researchers at MIT first conceived this technology in 2015. Eventually, they developed a prototype and conducted a small clinical study of 11 patients undergoing chemo to validate the theory. This research paper appeared in Scientific Reports, Nature. The researchers showed that the device could accurately determine the white blood cell levels of patients.

Later in a study of 44 patients in 2019, Leuko's team showed the approach was able to detect when WBC levels dropped below a critical threshold with minimal false positives.

Today, Leuko’s devices have accurately detected low white blood cell counts in hundreds of cancer patients, all without drawing a single drop of blood.

Leuko co-founder and CEO Carlos Castro-Gonzalez, a former postdoctorate at MIT said that some physicians whom they spoke to are thrilled with the device as they think it has potential and the future vision they have for this product is to personalize the chemotherapy dose given to each patient.

 There have been cases where the patient's white blood cell (WBC) count gets dangerously low i.e. neutropenia and the only way for doctors to monitor their patient's white blood cells is through blood tests. (Pixabay)
There have been cases where the patient's white blood cell (WBC) count gets dangerously low i.e. neutropenia and the only way for doctors to monitor their patient's white blood cells is through blood tests. (Pixabay)

He added that if neutropenia is not detected in the patient then this could mean that we can increase the dose. The doses could vary from patient to patient depending on how the patient reacts to it, doses can be altered.

MIT has said that the company has been working with the US Food and Drug Administration over the last four years to design studies confirming their device to be accurate, portable, and easy to use even for untrained patients.

Later this year, they expect to begin a pivotal study that will be used to register for FDA approval.

References:

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-018-23591-0

(Input from various sources)

(Rehash/Aditi Madathingal/MSM)

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