On this #OMFScienceWednesday we highlight Dr. Ron Davis’s team at Stanford University’s work to develop two technologies that can be used to distinguish ME/CFS patient blood samples from healthy blood samples.
- Nanoneedle: 10 patients and 10 controls were tested on the nanoneedle biosensor platform. This is a nanofabricated device that measures electrical impedance from a drop of blood. Both CFS and healthy white blood cells in their own plasma were stressed by adding salt. The impedance increased in CFS cells while healthy cells showed no change. It distinguished patients from controls in every case. By switching the plasma so that healthy cells were placed in CFS plasma and CFS cells were placed in healthy plasma, it was discovered that the impedance increases tracked with the plasma, which suggests that there is something in the plasma causing the effect. These efforts were covered in a Nature news feature about promising new research in ME/CFS. Some small molecules were then tested using this technology, and the results suggest that the technology can be used for screening candidate drugs for ME/CFS. Click to read more about why a blood-based diagnostic could be a game-changer.
- Magnetic levitation: This device uses a ferrofluid in a glass capillary surrounded by permanent magnets. This generates a density gradient and cells move to their respective densities in the capillary. Their position is imaged by a camera from a smart phone. It was discovered that white blood cells from CFS patients were less dense than healthy controls. One patient was followed for several months, consistently showing a light density. It was further observed that there was a correlation between the lightness of the cells and the severity of symptoms. This could be a very inexpensive diagnostic test, and more patients will be tested in the next year.
- In the future, all patients will be measured on all of our diagnostic platforms, enabling us to compare their efficacy and determine what combination of them will be most useful to export for diagnostic testing.