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Magnetic device isolates rarest white blood cells

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Food allergies are on the rise around the world. One of the most important cells in studying this disease is basophils, which activate other allergic reactions such as inflammation, rashes and anaphylaxis. However, basophils are very rare in typical blood vials and make up less than 1% of all white blood cells. To advance the science of food allergies, and to learn more about these elusive cells, engineers and clinicians at Stanford University have focused their attention on how to isolate basophils.

Illustration of basophils in red blood cells. (Image credit: Getty Images)

and paper Was announced in Lab-on-a-chip, Researchers outline a microfluidic system that separates allergen-reactive basophils from blood samples. “Our long-term goal is to find a way to design safer, more accurate and better food allergy tests,” he said. Cindytan, Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Lead Author of Thesis. “We have identified the basophil activation test as the most promising test, taking into account all the data from clinical collaborators and laboratories around the world. However, the current workflow is extensive clinical. Not suitable for use. “

Scientists have shown that the basophil activation test, which has been around for over a decade, is much more accurate than other allergy tests such as skin prick tests and traditional blood tests. Currently used only in research environments.

Completing this test is a priority for some clinicians-scientists, including: Stephen GaryDoctor of Medicine, Mary Hewitt Loveless, Professor of Medicine and co-author of this study, which is the future of allergy testing, avoiding patient discomfort and possible serious side effects while at the same time being useful. result.

“Of all patients with antibodies that can carry a true allergic reaction to a particular allergen, only about half actually show clinical responsiveness to that allergen,” Gari said. increase. “With basophils, we can identify over 95% of patients with clinically significant allergies.”

Purity by magnetic sieving

Currently, the basophil activation test requires complicated experimental procedures. The tests envisioned by these researchers are relatively hands-off approaches that may enable clinical use and can produce results more quickly. Separating basophils from a small amount of blood is one of the key aspects of their approach.

Starting with a whole blood sample, researchers use a combination of size-based classifications to remove red blood cells before introducing some special additives into the white blood cells. “We use antibody cocktails that target non-basophils, and magnetic nanoparticles bind to those antibodies,” he said. Nicholas CastagnoPhD student and lead author of the dissertation.

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