An innovative "biochip" filter washes the blood of cancer sufferers

Font Size:

Researchers at the University of New South Wales have developed a new system that could dramatically reduce the cost of cancer treatment by washing the blood clean of cancer cells. 

This new system takes the form of a “biochip”, which filters the blood of cancer sufferers to identify and remove cancer cells from the bloodstream in what is being termed as “dialysis for cancer”.

The system was initially designed as a less expensive and less painful way to diagnose cancer. Currently, identifying a tumour involves expensive scans and painful biopsies.

About 99 per cent of human cancers are solid, but these masses can shed circulating tumour cells into the bloodstream, which is how cancer can spread throughout the body.

Dr Majid Warkiani and the team at NSW University created the biochip in order to separate these cancerous cells from healthy cells.

“We are simply getting the blood from the patient, it’s a mixture of normal blood cells and cancer cells,” said Dr Warkiani. “We put it inside one of our biochips and the cells go under migration, and they get affected by hydrodynamic forces.

“Under those forces that we are applying to the cells inside the chip, the bigger cells go up to the cancer cell outlet, and the smaller cells get pushed down and essentially they get fractionated, they get separated.”

It is hoped that the chip will not only be used to diagnose the cancer, but also to significantly reduce the cost of treatment. 

Currently the cost of a tumour scan is around $700 per scan. But with the use of the biochip, these costs could be reduced to between $50–$100.

But scientists are now looking for other ways in which the biochip could be useful for more than just diagnosis.  It is believed that the chip could be upsized to wash a patient’s own blood of cancer cells, then returned to the body, similar to the process for kidney dialysis. This, in turn, could extend the lives of people suffering from cancer, as well as having the potential to save those who have gotten over the insidious disease from relapsing.

According to Dr Warkiani, all that is needed is proper funding and support, for the biochip technology to be in service around Australian hospitals within two or three years.

So far the team has applied for government funding and been knocked back six times in less than two years. Although Dr Warkiani is hopeful that recently flagged funds intended for innovation will give them the money they need to get this project off the ground.

“We should find a new way, and I believe that this is a new way to do cancer management,” he said.


What do you think of this innovative system to diagnose and treat cancer?


Cancer can be a result of bad luck

A study has found that cancer comes down to ‘bad luck' rather than environmental factors.

Cancer: what tests to have and when to have them

Finding cancer early improves your chances of successful treatment and long-term survival n

Life-saving cancer drug available

A life-saving cancer drug will soon be available in Australia.

Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca is a voracious reader who loves words. You'll often find him spending time in galleries, writing, designing, painting, drawing, or photographing and documenting street art. He has a publishing and graphic design background and loves movies and music, but then, who doesn’t?



Sign-up to the YourLifeChoices Enewsletter

continue reading


Another vaccine ruled out as second blood clot case emerges

Australia's Therapeutic Goods Association (TGA) has announced that a second case of blood clots is believed to be linked to...

Superannuation News

Super funds fight for changes to reforms

Your Super, Your Future legislation will be enacted within three months and leading players are weighing in on the impact...


Ambulance costs around Australia

There should be no hesitation when you have to call an ambulance in an emergency situation, but some people rushed...


Four tell-tale signs that you may have a blood clot

A blood clot is a clump of cells and protein in your blood. Blood clots form to slow down bleeding...


Sweet Potato and Shredded Beef Bowl

When it comes to serving a lot of people, chilli is a miracle dish. You throw all the ingredients into...

Finance News

How much you can save on electricity in your home state

As we prepare to head into the colder winter months, there is good news for those worried about heating costs...


What is thrombocytopenia, and why did it stop the AstraZeneca jab?

Anthony Zulli, Victoria University; Maja Husaric, Victoria University; Maximilian de Courten, Victoria University, and Vasso Apostolopoulos, Victoria University Australia's medical...


Ways to manage death anxiety

Winston Churchill once said: "Any man who says he is not afraid of death is a liar." But while it's...