Portable Device to Detect Low Levels of White Blood Cells Devised

Published Date : Apr 04, 2018

Among the many other known side-effects of chemotherapy, the sharp reduction in the patient’s white blood cells is a major one, leaving patients more prone to contracting dangerous infections. Patients can get their white blood cell levels checked when they are hospitalized; however, patients at home cannot keep a track of this often, leading to the potential danger of numbers going below the threshold that is consider dangerous.

To find a plausible solution to this issue, researchers at MIT have devised a portable device that can monitor the white blood cells of a patient at their homes. The best part about the device is that it does not depend on blood samples to do so. The prototype device formulated by the researchers captures the video of blood cells passing through blood capillaries located at the base of the fingernail, just below the skin’s surface. A computer algorithm is then used to analyze the video and the level of white blood cells in the blood is determined.

Usage of such a device can help prevent infections on a large scale among chemotherapy patients as patients can keep a daily track of how their bodies are reacting to the treatment. If the levels run below the safe threshold, preventive treatments can be put into place. According to the paper regarding the study, which was published in Scientific Reports, researchers show that the portable device was able to accurately determine if the level of white blood cells was above or below than the dangerous threshold in 11 patients that were undergoing chemotherapy. Researchers further plan to expand the scope of the device and make it useful for analyzing the white blood counts in people with certain infectious conditions or people who have received bone marrow transplant.