Showing all posts written by Steven Friedland
The University of Washington announced that a team of researchers has developed a prothrombin time/international normalized ratio (PT/INR) blood clotting test that requires only a single drop of blood and a smartphone. According to the team’s February 11, 2022 paper published in Nature Communications, the test uses a tiny cup containing copper, and a blood clotting agent that is attached to the smartphone below the camera, as shown in the figure below from the paper.
After adding a drop of blood, the smartphone vibrates, causing the blood to react with copper and the agent to form a blood clot, all of which is observed and measured by the camera. A video of the device is here.
Blood clotting, also known as coagulation, is the process by which blood changes into a gel-like substance to prevent bleeding. Excessive blood clotting within blood vessels can restrict blood flow, leading to serious conditions like deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolisms. Blood thinners can reduce clotting, but patients must have their blood tested frequently to ensure proper dosage, as too much or too little blood clotting can be life-threatening.
Shyam Gollakota, a University of Washington professor and co-author of the paper, stated:
Back in the day, doctors used to manually rock tubes of blood back and forth to monitor how long it took a clot to form. This, however, requires a lot of blood, making it infeasible to use in home settings. The creative leap we make here is that we’re showing that by using the vibration motor on a smartphone, our algorithms can do the same thing, except with a single drop of blood. And we get accuracy similar to the best commercially available techniques. … This is the best of all worlds — it’s basically the holy grail of PT/INR testing. It makes it frugal and accessible to millions of people, even where resources are very limited.
Alpha Tau Medical Ltd. (“Alpha Tau”) is a medical technology start-up focused on the research, development, and commercialization of its Alpha DaRT (Diffusing Alpha-emitters Radiation Therapy) treatment for solid cancerous tumors. On October 8, 2021, Alpha Tau announced that it received FDA Breakthrough Device Designation for using Alpha DaRT to treat recurrent glioblastoma multiforme (GBM). GBM is an aggressive, often incurable form of cancer responsible for malignant brain tumors.
According to the FDA, the goal of its Breakthrough Devices Program is to “provide patients and health care providers with timely access to  medical devices by speeding up their development, assessment, and review.”
“As GBM is such a terrible disease, it is critical that we find new solutions for these patients, and we are thrilled that receipt of the FDA’s Breakthrough Device Designation will allow us to expedite our clinical collaborations with leading cancer centers in the U.S. and across the world, and to bring new hope for GBM patients. I am very proud of our team and our collaborators who have worked hard to extend the use of Alpha DaRT to GBM and have already accomplished so many amazing things. This is fantastic news for Alpha Tau and fantastic news for so many GBM patients around the world.”
Alpha DaRT works by first inserting a “seed” into a cancerous tumor. The seed then releases high-energy alpha particles that destroy the tumor while sparing the healthy tissue around it.
This is the second FDA Breakthrough Device Designation Alpha Tau has received. In June 2021, Alpha Tau announced the FDA’s designation of Alpha DaRT for treating squamous cell carcinoma, a type of skin cancer.