It's good to see cancer research attracting so many brains. Never before in this historical juncture are there so many techniques being studied, come on methods of "genetic surgery" experimental immunotherapies. Even vaccines being tested against various forms of cancer.
This also applies to diagnostics, of course: a crucial factor in catching all the signs of the disease in time. This week, researchers at Vanderbilt University Medical Center developed a new type of diagnostic tool that can quickly identify relapses of leukemia from a 10-second video of patients' white blood cells.
How does this screening method work?
White blood cells, or leukocytes, are the immune cells that move in our blood to fight the "invasions" of foreign substances or infectious organisms. Blood cancer, often known as leukemia, is a disease that affects these blood cells and tissues, including the bone marrow and lymphatic system. When this happens, there may be an overabundance of non-functioning white blood cells. It goes without saying that this can cause several problems, including an increased risk of infections and blocked blood vessels.
In the study published in JAMA Dermatology the researchers were able to correctly diagnose 56 bone marrow and stem cell transplant patients who would relapse by studying the behavior of immune cells. The analysis showed that patients were three times more likely to relapse if their white blood cells adhered to the walls of the veins and ran along them at an above average speed.
A new weapon against leukemia
The newly developed model turned out to be much more accurate than the established methods: and besides, it is not invasive, it is easy to perform and returns results quickly.
"Our study opens up the possibility of a new use for the so-called diagnostic optical biopsy," he says Eric Tkaczy, one of the researchers.
With a unique microscope provided to stem cell and bone marrow transplant patients for an absolutely non-invasive skin inspection.
Although this is a pilot study involving just over 50 patients, the study appears to suggest feasible clinical use for better patient assessment and management.