Microfluidic device isolates plasma cells from blood rather than bone marrow.
Multiple myeloma is a cancer of the plasma cells, which are white blood cells produced in bone marrow that churn out antibodies to help fight infection. When plasma cells become cancerous, they produce abnormal proteins, and the cells can build up in bone marrow, ultimately seeping into the bloodstream.
The disease is typically diagnosed through a bone marrow biopsy, in which a needle is inserted near a patient’s hip bone to suck out a sample of bone marrow — a painful process for many patients. Clinicians can then isolate and analyze the plasma cells in the bone marrow sample to determine if they are cancerous.
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