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
It is the question scientists around the world are trying to answer: how long can the coronavirus survive in the tiny aerosol particles we exhale? In a high-security lab near Bristol, entered through a series [...]
As the COVID-19 pandemic rages on, researchers are working overtime to develop vaccines and therapies to thwart SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for the disease Many efforts focus on the coronavirus spike protein, which binds the [...]
A research team in Hungary pinched the coronavirus with a fine needle to measure how much force it could take before popping like a balloon. It did not. The native virion of Sars-CoV-2 – a [...]
Headaches, confusion and delirium experienced by some Covid-19 patients could be the result of the coronavirus directly invading the brain, according to a study published Wednesday. The research is still preliminary – but offers several [...]
By Boris M | Published in Coronavirus During the COVID-19 pandemic, there will be a lot of information about the virus and its effects on mental health. That’s because coronavirus and the social, financial and psychological [...]
A serious illness suffered by an Oxford University coronavirus vaccine trial participant was most likely “life-threatening”, a bioethics researcher says. But that doesn’t mean the clinical trials will be scrapped. AstraZeneca and Oxford University [...]
Analysis of seven trials finds dexamethasone and hydrocortisone should be given in severe cases. Studies around the world have confirmed that steroids can save lives in the Covid-19 pandemic, leading to new recommendations from [...]
Experts say strong evidence of efficacy needed to avoid approval of inferior vaccines. The rush to immunise populations against Covid-19 could lead to the rollout of a vaccine that is not very effective and [...]
The COVID-19 pandemic has dominated the news cycle for the better part of 2020. As guidelines are continually updated to reflect changes in our understanding of how the virus spreads, it is critical people [...]
Scientists in Hong Kong have reported the first confirmed case of reinfection with the coronavirus that causes Covid-19, reportedly backed up by genetic sequences of the two episodes of the 33-year-old man’s infections in March and [...]
Could uncomfortable nasal swabs be swapped for a contactless two-second breathalyzer puff to check for Covid-19 infection? Prof. Hossam Haick thinks so. Haick, a professor of chemical engineering and nanotechnology at the Technion – [...]
The relationship between antibodies for the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) and immunity, vaccine efficacy, and spread of COVID-19 has received significant attention. Dr. Seheult is back to illustrate why T cells have received less [...]
Images Description Three individuals were admitted to the hospital (ages 46–56; to men and one woman) with a multiday history of symptoms associated with the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and underwent [...]