Micro-needles may be key to easier, quicker disease diagnosis | KOB 4
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Micro-needles may be key to easier, quicker disease diagnosis

Emily Jaceks
January 16, 2019 07:10 AM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.—It's taken nearly a decade, but this team of researchers from Sandia National Laboratories is closer to perfecting a new method for diagnosing some of the worst diseases.

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“It’s an exciting time for us and to just look at the possibilities. The potential there is just huge,” Lead Researcher, Ronen Polsky said.

Painful pokes from a large hypodermic needle would be replaced by gentle taps from a series of microneedles.

“I think once people see them, the size differences, patient compliance, acceptance of the devices are going to be more widespread,” Researcher Phillip Miller said.

But these tiny needles won't be drawing your blood. Polsky said this device will pull something called "interstitial fluid," a liquid lurking just below your skin holding many markers of healthy body function, but also those of certain diseases, like cancer.

“It can be the easier diagnosis if we think that almost 80 percent of your immune system resides in the skin and not in the blood,” Polsky said.

So why have doctors been using blood and not interstitial fluid?

“It’s very difficult to get just the interstitial fluid and not get blood. And so people would try and access it, but then they get a combination of blood and interstitial fluid. So it was very hard to get pure interstitial fluid,” Polsky said.

But this new technique, with needles just long enough to break the surface, and drain the appropriate amount of fluid, could prove to be the quickest, least painful, and more accurate way to diagnose illnesses in the future.        

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Emily Jaceks

Copyright 2019 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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