When people are in the early stages of an undiagnosed disease, immediate tests that lead to treatment are the best first steps. But a blood draw—usually performed by a medical professional armed with an uncomfortably large needle—might not be quickest, least painful or most effective method, according to new research.
Now a technique using microneedles able to draw relatively large amounts of interstitial fluid—a liquid that lurks just under the skin—opens new possibilities. Previously, microneedles—tiny, hollow, stainless steel needles—have drained tiny amounts of interstitial fluid needed to analyze electrolyte levels but could not draw enough fluid to make more complicated medical tests practical. The new method’s larger draws could be more effective in rapidly measuring exposure to chemical and biological warfare agents as well as diagnosing cancer and other diseases, says Sandia National Laboratories researcher and team lead Ronen Polsky, who is principal investigator on the project sponsored by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency and Sandia’s Laboratory Directed Research and Development program.
“We believe interstitial fluid has tremendous diagnostic potential, but there has been a problem with gathering sufficient quantities for clinical analysis,” said Polsky. “Dermal interstitial fluid, because of its important regulatory functions in the body, actually carries more immune cells than blood, so it might even predict the onset of some diseases more quickly than other methods.”
Polsky, along with the University of New Mexico, the U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center and other Sandia researchers described the new technique in an Oct. 22 paper in the Nature journal Communications Biology.
The relatively large quantities of pure interstitial fluid extracted, which have never before been achieved, make it possible to create a database of testable molecules, such as proteins, nucleotides, small molecules and other cell-to-cell signaling vesicles called exosomes. Their presence or absence in a patient’s interstitial fluid would then indicate, when an individual’s data is transmitted by electronic means to a future data center, whether bodily disorders like cancers, liver disease or other problems might be afoot.
The new microneedle extraction protocol achieved its latest results by modifying a technique described in a 1999 technical paper. The original technique drew fluid with a microneedle attached to a flat substrate penetrating the skin. In the recent modification, a concentric ring from a horizontally sliced insulin pen injector surrounding the needle was used serendipitously and a far greater amount of fluid became available.
Image Credit: Randy Montoya
News This Week
Experts have discovered what they believe is the world’s most mutated COVID strain – and there’s one detail in particular that has scientists worried. Scientists have detected what is believed to be the world’s [...]
SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, likely does not directly infect the brain but can still inflict significant neurological damage, according to a new study from neuropathologists, neurologists, and neuroradiologists at Columbia University Vagelos [...]
ANSTO has contributed to a comprehensive investigation of a promising type of nanoparticle that could potentially be used for intractable brain cancers in a combined therapy. The study, which was led by Dr. Moeava [...]
The immune response needed to protect people against reinfection with the coronavirus will be explored in a new human challenge trial, researchers have revealed. Human challenge trials involve deliberately exposing healthy people to a [...]
Researchers from Duke University are developing a flu shot with the new technology that was used for two coronavirus vaccines. Both the Pfizer-BioNTech and the Moderna shots use part of the virus's genetic code [...]
Researchers from the University of Liverpool have shown the potential of repurposing an existing and cheap drug into a long-acting injectable therapy that could be used to treat Covid-19. In a paper published in the journal Nanoscale, [...]
Researchers have developed a new superbug-destroying coating that could be used on wound dressings and implants to prevent and treat potentially deadly bacterial and fungal infections. The material is one of the thinnest antimicrobial [...]
The U.S. is recommending a "pause" in administration of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine to investigate reports of potentially dangerous blood clots. In a joint statement Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control [...]
The South African coronavirus variant is better at "breaking through" the defences of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine than other forms of the virus, Israeli experts said Sunday. However, one of the authors told AFP that [...]
EPFL scientists have developed AI-powered nanosensors that let researchers track various kinds of biological molecules without disturbing them. The tiny world of biomolecules is rich in fascinating interactions between a plethora of different agents [...]
A team of researchers from the Institute for Infectious Diseases (IFIK) at the University of Bern and the Federal Institute of Virology and Immunology (IVI) have assessed virus growth and activation of the cellular [...]
Researchers at Brown University have succeeded in creating the first wireless, implantable, rechargeable, long-term brain-computer interface. The wireless BCIs have been implanted in pigs and monkeys for over 13 months without issue, and human [...]
The coronavirus outbreak made household names of companies like Moderna Inc. and BioNTech SE, whose shots offered hope for ending the pandemic. Now a new wave of vaccines is on the horizon that may get the [...]
Researchers at the University of Southampton have developed a new way of using nanomaterials to identify and enrich skeletal stem cells—a discovery which could eventually lead to new treatments for major bone fractures and [...]
In March 2020, Hannu Rajaniemi pivoted his biotech company Helix Nanotechnologies' focus from cancer therapies to Covid-19 vaccines. The role biotech start-ups can play in a pandemic Rajaniemi originally co-founded Helix Nanotechnologies in Cambridge, Massachusetts in [...]
The rapid mass testing strategy costing just £1 a day per child can get children back to school and economies up and running, according to experts. That is the small price of the [...]