As those of us who have had a manual blood count know, the automated blood cell measuring equipment in regular use can be prone to error. The need for a more accurate manual count becomes important when our blood counts appear to be dangerously out of range. Miscounting with automated systems occurs because automated counting is done by sorting blood cells by size and different white blood cell types can overlap in size. For us, that becomes particularly important as our lymphocyte count increases, because with automated testing, some CLL cells are misclassified as neutrophils, giving us a false security with regards to our apparent immunity. (This partly explains some of the drop in neutrophil counts during treatment - some of the cells counted as neutrophils were CLL cells, which die off as wanted during treatment.)
This Gizmag article explains how a new vibrating microfluidic device should overcome this inherent inaccuracy in current automated testers and may hold the promise of faster testing with small, hand-held blood test instruments based on this technique:
'Results are already positive from lab testing, with the team able to distinguish between monocytes, lymphocytes and neutrophils, which are all types of white blood cell. The readings were clear, despite neutrophils and monocytes being very similar in size.
It's even possible that uses for the device might go beyond a new method for conducting blood tests. During the study, the researchers were able to distinguish between different types of tumor cell, meaning that the method might be useful in monitoring cancer progression.'
The technical article is published in Nature Communications:
Photo: Barley germinating in a recently cultivated paddock. Getting the seeders working reliably to evenly plant the crop is another instance of where equipment needs to be carefully matched to seed size.