Simple blood test can diagnose asthma: Study

Apr 16, 2014, 15:55 IST | IANS

A single drop of blood can be a faster, cheaper and more accurate tool to diagnose mild cases of asthma

New York: A single drop of blood can be a faster, cheaper and more accurate tool to diagnose mild cases of asthma.

If we believe researchers at University of Wisconsin-Madison, this hand-held technology can lead to diagnose asthma even if patients are not experiencing any symptoms.

Simple blood test can diagnose asthma
Representational picture

“The data shows that neutrophil (white blood cell) function in some cases can predict - and in this case actually predicted and measured - whether someone is asthmatic or not,” said David Beebe, a professor of biomedical engineering.

This is one of the first studies to show that this process could actually work in a cheap, easy and practical way.

Asthma remains a very difficult disorder to accurately diagnose. Many of the current tests for diagnosing asthma rely at least partially on the patient experiencing symptoms during or close to their physician visit.

“Right now, asthma diagnosis is based on indirect measures which is not optimal. We show that cell function could be used to diagnose asthma. We could measure cell function in way that is simple and cheap enough to be used clinically,” Beebe explained.

The answer lies in neutrophils - the most abundant white blood cell in the body and generally are the first cells to migrate toward inflammation.

Neutrophils are sort of like a dog tracking something. They sense a chemical gradient, like an odour, in the body.

The researchers developed the kit-on-a-lid-assay (KOALA) microfluidic technology that allows them to detect neutrophils using just a single drop of blood.

Using simple lids and bases, researchers places a KOALA lid containing a chemical mixture onto the base containing the blood sample.

That chemical mixture triggers neutrophil migration and researchers can automatically track and analyse the neutrophil chemotaxis velocity using custom software.

“The KOALA platform represents the next-generation biomedical research kit," Beebe noted in a paper published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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