1 Drop Of Blood & 60 Minutes: Breakthrough Device Heralds Future Of Cancer Detection

Staff Writer | RT News | October 18, 2014

Early cancer detection can save millions of lives but current diagnostic methods remain costly and invasive. However, a new startup is developing a device which could detect dozens of cancers with a single blood test.  The Miriam test platform was recently presented at the TEDGlobal 2014 conference in Rio de Janeiro by Jorge Soto, a cancer technologist. He promised that it would make cancer detection at the molecular level “easier, cheaper, smarter and more accessible than ever before.”

Named “one of the most thrilling demos in TED history” by conference curator Chris Anderson, Miriam is a compact, $500, 3D-printed device that, nevertheless, can detect several kinds of cancer – pancreatic, lung, breast and hepatic – and it is only the beginning, according to its makers, who have decided to make its design open-source.  The device is based on state-of-the-art molecular biology, and the latest scientific discoveries in the field of microRNA – a class of tiny biological regulator molecules, discovered in 1993. They can be used as a “perfect, highly sensitive biomarker,” as their levels vary in the blood, forming specific patterns characterizing different types of cancer, even at the early stages.

“You don’t need to wait until you have any symptoms, you don’t need to know which disease you are looking for, you only need 1 milliliter of blood and a relatively simple array of tools,” the company’s blog stated.  The blood sample is pipetted into a 96-well plate with patented biochemical reagents, which is then loaded into the device for about an hour. A smartphone, put on top of the device, takes pictures, documenting the pace of the reaction that reveals the microRNA strings by lighting up the well green...