A new type of blood test has been developed by researchers at the University of Kansas in the US, which employs a plastic chip to detect a form of cancer known as multiple myeloma.

The test is also able to aid treatment decisions and is expected to replace the existing standard bone-biopsy or surgical procedures, which can be invasive and painful for patients.

According to the researchers, the test helps to identify the stage of the disease and the most effective drug for its treatment, in addition to facilitating monitoring for any signs of recurrence in case of remission.

“With our technology, we’ll be able to see if patients are developing cancers before they have overt symptoms and help improve survival.”

Contrary to previously used forms of plastic chip, the new variant is said to enhance testing performance and accuracy.

It is also noted to be easier and less expensive to manufacture using injection moulding techniques.

Researchers are currently using the new diagnostic method to test for tumour cells in blood samples that have been obtained from paediatric acute leukaemia patients at Children’s Mercy Hospital.

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The team hope that the test can be used to improve the diagnosis and precision treatment of various other tumours as well.

University of Kansas Chemistry and Mechanical Engineering professor Steven Soper said: “Here, we’re homing in on multiple myeloma, but we’ve developed tests for two forms of leukaemia and for pancreatic cancer, prostate cancer, ovarian cancer, colorectal cancer and breast cancer.

“With our technology, we’ll be able to see if patients are developing cancers before they have overt symptoms and help improve survival.”

The new test will be marketed by a local firm known as BioFluidica, which currently operates a research centre and is planning to build a clinical testing lab for the KU Medical Center.

The test is expected to primarily help cancer patients in regions that lack major medical facilities and high-end screening equipment.