Gravity Technology Sets Stage for Earlier Diagnoses

Treatment & Doctors
Reading Time: 3 mins
Publication Date: 06/20/2012
Fact Checked
Our fact-checking process begins with a thorough review of all sources to ensure they are high quality. Then we cross-check the facts with original medical or scientific reports published by those sources, or we validate the facts with reputable news organizations, medical and scientific experts and other health experts. Each page includes all sources for full transparency.
Reviewed

Asbestos.com is the nation’s most trusted mesothelioma resource

The Mesothelioma Center at Asbestos.com has provided patients and their loved ones the most updated and reliable information on mesothelioma and asbestos exposure since 2006.

Our team of Patient Advocates includes a medical doctor, a registered nurse, health services administrators, veterans, VA-accredited Claims Agents, an oncology patient navigator and hospice care expert. Their combined expertise means we help any mesothelioma patient or loved one through every step of their cancer journey.

More than 30 contributors, including mesothelioma doctors, survivors, health care professionals and other experts, have peer-reviewed our website and written unique research-driven articles to ensure you get the highest-quality medical and health information.

About The Mesothelioma Center at Asbestos.com

  • Assisting mesothelioma patients and their loved ones since 2006.
  • Helps more than 50% of mesothelioma patients diagnosed annually in the U.S.
  • A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau.
  • 5-star reviewed mesothelioma and support organization.
Learn More About Us

Testimonials

"My family has only the highest compliment for the assistance and support that we received from The Mesothelioma Center. This is a staff of compassionate and knowledgeable individuals who respect what your family is experiencing and who go the extra mile to make an unfortunate diagnosis less stressful. Information and assistance were provided by The Mesothelioma Center at no cost to our family."
Lashawn
Mesothelioma patient’s daughter
  • Google Review Rating
  • BBB Review Rating

How to Cite Asbestos.com’s Article

APA

Hall, M. (2020, October 16). Gravity Technology Sets Stage for Earlier Diagnoses. Asbestos.com. Retrieved October 7, 2022, from https://www.asbestos.com/news/2012/06/20/gravity-technology-sets-stage-for-earlier-mesothelioma-diagnoses/

MLA

Hall, Mark. "Gravity Technology Sets Stage for Earlier Diagnoses." Asbestos.com, 16 Oct 2020, https://www.asbestos.com/news/2012/06/20/gravity-technology-sets-stage-for-earlier-mesothelioma-diagnoses/.

Chicago

Hall, Mark. "Gravity Technology Sets Stage for Earlier Diagnoses." Asbestos.com. Last modified October 16, 2020. https://www.asbestos.com/news/2012/06/20/gravity-technology-sets-stage-for-earlier-mesothelioma-diagnoses/.

Two researchers from Johns Hopkins University have developed a method of sorting particles and cells, which could one day be used to diagnose cancers like mesothelioma earlier than current methods.

Mesothelioma, which is frequently diagnosed in later stages, leaves patients with limited treatment options.

This research enables the development of a medical device that doctors could use to test for cancers during routine visits and checkups.

German Drazer, assistant professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, and Jorge Bernate, his doctoral student, developed a lab-on-chip platform that sorts cells by weight, size and other factors using natural forces.

The process, which sounds like a scene from a science fiction movie, utilizes gravity to move cells over multiple tiny ramps to separate them into distinct categories. Applying this process to cancer cells gives experts an opportunity to identify hazardous cells from normal cells, earlier.

Their findings are published in the May 25 issue of Physical Review Letters.

Mesothelioma is a rare and aggressive cancer affecting nearly 3,000 people annually. The negative prognosis commonly associated with this disease is often attributed to the late diagnosis of the cancer, which is often discovered in Stage III and IV.

Using this gravity technology to reach earlier diagnoses has widespread benefits. Based on the early progress of technology, the university researchers are optimistic of its potential.

Delving into the Details

According to the researchers, an analogy to the process is speed bumps. The microfluidic platform that the research team developed act as micro-sized speed bumps for small biological matter, which includes cancerous cells.

As these cells flow through the body and pass over these microscopic bumps, they can be sorted according to various physical characteristics.

Gravity is used to slow down and regulate the flow of particles over the speed bumps.

Today’s progress is just the tip of the iceberg, according to the pair.

“The ultimate goal is to develop a simple device that can be used in routine checkups by health care providers,” said doctoral student Bernate.

“It could be used to detect the handful of circulating tumor cells that have managed to survive among billions of normal blood cells. This could save millions of lives.”

The hope of the technology is to detect cancerous cells prior to their spread and growth. Treatment options of cancers that have yet to metastasize are significantly more effective and promising compared to cancers that have reached other organs.

Mesothelioma develops in the lining of the lungs. In rarer forms, it can also initially develop in the heart, abdominal cavity or testicle.

“After the particles cross this section of the ‘highway,’ they end up in different ‘lanes’ and can take different ‘exits,’ which allows for their continuous separation.”

This initial identification of cancerous cells enable doctors to take action more quickly.

Current Ways to Diagnose Mesothelioma

Today’s technology allows doctors to diagnose cancers through multiple forms, including biopsies, CT Scans, MRI, X-Rays, PET Scans or blood tests.

Each of these methods involve their own benefits and drawbacks.

Biopsies are considered one of the most effective way to diagnose mesothelioma, with thoracoscopic biopsies providing diagnoses with 98 percent accuracy.

Some of these methods are considered invasive and often don’t happen until months after the patient’s initial visit to the doctor.

The research from Drazer and Bernate could yield a medical device that would give doctors an opportunity to detect the cancer significantly earlier with less inconvenience for the patient. This presents numerous benefits to the entire medical community, along with all those who may one day be diagnosed with mesothelioma and other diseases.

Medically Reviewed by Top Mesothelioma Doctors
Free Mesothelioma Guide