Health care

MIT’s portable fingerprint device could cut hospital admissions by 50%

Each year, a million people are given chemotherapy in the United States alone. Cancer remains the leading cause of death worldwide, accounting for 10 million deaths in 2020.

The importance of cancer and finding solutions to improve treatment strategies has inspired a group of researchers from MIT to create a portable device designed to help patients monitor their white blood cell count.

According to researchers, it could “eliminate 50 percent of hospitalizations” for cancer.

What is Leuko Labs?

Leuko Labs started a few years ago in the Madrid-MIT M+ Vision Consortium (MIT linQ), an initiative that promotes medical entrepreneurship by connecting promising researchers with MIT faculty to solve critical gaps in the field.

With the support of this exciting business project, the founders of Leuko focused on a major challenge in cancer treatment: the only way to check the number of white blood cells is by drawing blood, which is inappropriate.

A complication of chemotherapy

About every 21 days, cancer patients are given chemotherapy, which reduces the number of white blood cells and increases the risk of infection. Leuko co-founder Carlos Castro-Gonzalez highlighted the alarming rates and risks.

He said: “One in six cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy will develop an infection where their white blood cells are very low.” “Some of those diseases unfortunately end in death for the patients, which is a very bad thing because it is caused by the treatment and not the death.”

Many of the deaths that occur in chemotherapy patients in the United States each year can be prevented simply by monitoring white blood cell counts. Conditions tend to recur, but doctors currently have no way to accurately diagnose these conditions before and after treatment.

With such a great need, Leuko developed a non-invasive solution that would allow patients to check their white blood cell count regularly, leading to more accurate chemotherapy doses.

During his clinical studies, Castro-Gonzalez discovered that many patients could tolerate high doses of chemotherapy, which initially led him to MIT’s linQ health improvement program.

The health benefits of these advances could affect millions of people worldwide who are being treated for cancer. “Research estimates that could eliminate 50 percent of hospitals,” AurĂ©lien Bourquard, co-founder of Leuko, told MIT.

PointCheck checks the number of white blood cells on a finger

Similar to the fingerprint scanner of the future, PointCheck is an optics-based, tracking device What s Office of Innovation, “which can see through the skin and count white blood cells as they flow past a tiny lens.”

The capillaries at the base of the nail are thin and so close to the skin that the white blood cells have to pass one by one, making them easily visible.

MIT clarified that while the device cannot give an exact count, it can tell if patients fall above or below the dangerous threshold of 500 neutrophils, the most common type of white blood cell. blood

In the future, Leuko Labs plans to branch out into measuring other blood components. But first they have to go through a rigorous FDA approval process.

For now, PointCheck is still a research tool. They have been developing this product for the past four years, culminating in a study that will be submitted to the FDA this year. Their studies so far have shown exceptional promise. Previous study published in Scientific Reports showed that their tool is 95% accurate.

For patients and doctors alike, PointCheck can greatly improve existing procedures for treating cancer and reduce the enormous burden of the world’s most common disease.


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Maria Mocerino Originally from LA, Maria Mocerino has been published in Business Insider, The Irish Examiner, The Rogue Mag, Chacruna Institute for Psychedelic Plant Medicines, and now Interesting Engineering.

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