Wednesday, 29 August 2018 10:12

ANU invents device to anticipate stroke, heart attack Featured

Sherry He and Dr Samantha Montague work with their diagnostic device that reveals the formation of blood clots in patients. Sherry He and Dr Samantha Montague work with their diagnostic device that reveals the formation of blood clots in patients. Courtesy ANU

A bio-optics diagnostic device that can reveal blood clot formation and help identify people who risk suffering a stroke or a heart attack has been invented and tested by engineers and biochemists at the Australian National University.

The team was led by biomedical engineer Dr Steve Lee from the ANU Research School of Engineering, and biochemist Associate Professor Elizabeth Gardiner, from the John Curtin School of Medical Research.

A statement from ANU said predicting the formation of a blood clot was challenging given the dynamic nature of the environment in which it formed. Blood platelets, that measure about a tenth of the size of regular cells, drive clot formation, bunching together in seconds after being triggered.

“Using the new diagnostic device that our team has developed, we can create and quantify clot formation in 3D view from a blood sample without any form of labelling such as fluorescence or radiotracer – this had been impossible to achieve until now,” Dr Lee said.

Associate Professor Gardiner said that people at risk of heart attack or stroke were treated with blood-thinning medication, but until now one had been unable to know a patient’s susceptibility with precision.

anu blood vert“We can apply this technology to blood from patients at risk of clotting or uncontrollable bleeding – this is a potential gamechanger,” she said.

Supporting the development of the device were Sherry He, a CSC-PhD scholar in Dr Lee’s group at the ANU Research School of Engineering, and Dr Samantha Montague, a post-doctoral fellow from the Gardiner group at JCSMR.

“Our device creates a digital hologram of a microscopic blood clot at a fraction of a second by measuring the delay time for light to travel through the clot,” He said.

A micro-fabricated device was created to mimic a damaged blood vessel and blood clots were created from human samples to show blood-clotting events in the lab.

“We need to shrink our diagnostic device, which takes up a fair amount of space in a research lab at the moment, to something that can fit into a shoebox so that it can be used in a clinical setting,” He added.

Dr Montague said the device would be further developed as per existing clinical and platelet research practices.

“We have set up this new diagnostic device at JCSMR right alongside routine flow cytometry equipment that are the gold-standard for cell and blood platelet analysis,” she said.

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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