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.
“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.