A new technique was invented by #Mit Engineers which circumvents the painful biopsy procedure. This procedure is done to diagnose multiple myeloma. Multiple myeloma is a type of cancer characterised by malignancy of the plasma cells. Plasma cells are produced in the bone marrow. The major function of plasma is to produce antibodies which fights with infectious agents in our body. The plasma mainly consists of white blood cells. When plasma cells becomes cancerous, they grow in large numbers and get deposited in the bone marrow.

Biopsy method

Multiple myeloma is usually diagnosed by biopsy method, in which a long needle is inserted into the major bone of the body and a small sample of bone marrow is collected for further investigation.

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The most common site is the hip bone. This painful procedure is done under local anaesthesia. Pathologists will isolate the plasma cells in the bone marrow and check them for malignancy.

Innovative, painless technique

An alternative technique was invented by MIT engineers called microfluidic technique. This technique enables them to capture and count the circulating plasma cells in the blood. The blood sample is collected by conventional methods and processed. Scientist at MIT claim that this new method helps them to track the progression of the disease.

Herring bone trap

This technique consists of a microchip, which is etched with v shaped grooves repeatedly. This pattern looks similar to the herring bone pattern. The grooves in the chip make the blood swirl around the edges instead of passing through straight away.

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This allows the blood to have more contact with the floor of the chip. The chip is encoded with antibodies, which will bind the plasma cells in the blood to the floor of the microchip.

Advantages

This method is less painful than the biopsy procedure. This method doesn't require hospitalization right after the procedure. #Bone Marrow Biopsy is available only in tertiary level multi speciality hospitals but this method can be done even in small clinics. The risk of infection is higher in bone marrow biopsy as it is a minor invasive procedure done under local anaesthesia. Complications like bleeding can occur in biopsy. On the other hand, a simple blood draw is more than enough for this innovative microfluidic technique.

This method detects the presence of mutated cells in the plasma. It is highly effective in screening multiple myeloma patients with recurrence. Detection and understanding of the mutated cells in the plasma at an early stage leads to early intervention.