Pleural fluid extracted from the lungs is often screened for cancer, but traditional cytopathology requires time consuming preparation that slows down diagnosis and costs a great deal of money. UCLA researchers have developed a new high speed deformability cytometer that can screen cells by squeezing them individually and measuring how their shape responds to the applied pressure.
The system was tested with 119 patients pleural fluid samples and was able to sort through more than a thousand cells a second with impressive confidence.
From the study abstract in Science Translational Medicine:
The DC scoring system classified 63% of the samples into two high-confidence regimes with 100% positive predictive value or 100% negative predictive value, and achieved an area under the curve of 0.86. This performance is suitable for a prescreening role to focus cytopathologist analysis time on a smaller fraction of difficult samples. Diagnosis of samples that present a challenge to cytology was also improved. Samples labeled as “atypical cells,” which require additional time and follow-up, were classified in high-confidence regimes in 8 of 15 cases. Further, 10 of 17 cytology-negative samples corresponding to patients with concurrent cancer were correctly classified as malignant or negative, in agreement with 6-month outcomes. This study lays the groundwork for broader validation of label-free quantitative biophysical markers for clinical diagnoses of cancer and inflammation, which could help to reduce laboratory workload and improve clinical decision-making.
Study in Science Translational Medicine: Quantitative Diagnosis of Malignant Pleural Effusions by Single-Cell Mechanophenotyping