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This Device Could Detect Dozens of Cancers With a Single Blood Test 10/10/14 via Wired.com


senior member
Concord, NH
Early detection, we’re often told, is the surest way to beat cancer. It’s the reason why, year after year, men and women of a certain age dutifully visit their doctors and undergo uncomfortable tests to screen for things like prostate and breast cancer.

But what about the other hundred or so types of cancer out there—the brain cancers, the ovarian cancers, the leukemias and lymphomas? And what of the millions of young people who never get tested at all, even though they’ve been found to have worse outcomes than adults?

Current diagnostic methods for other cancers are invasive and expensive, so the vast majority of cancer patients never realize they might have cancer until something goes wrong with their health. By that point, in many cases, it’s already too late.

That’s why a new startup, dubbed Miroculus, is building a device that could easily and affordably check for dozens of cancers using a single blood sample. Known as Miriam, this low-cost, open source device made its public debut at the TEDGlobal conference in Rio De Janeiro on Thursday, with TED curator Chris Anderson calling it “one of the most thrilling demos in TED history.”

For the company’s founders—a global team of entrepreneurs, microbiologists, and data scientists—the goal is to make Miriam so simple that even untrained workers in clinics around the world could use it. The project is still in the early stages, but if the early trials of Miriam are to be believed, Miroculus could make regular cancer screenings as simple as getting blood drawn.

A Biological Warning Sign
The Miroculus technology is based on microRNA, a class of small molecules that can act as a type of biological warning sign, appearing and disappearing based on what is happening in our bodies at that moment. As a result, they’ve become effective indicators of diseases—including cancer—ever since they were first discovered in 1993. They can reveal not just whether a person may have cancer, but what specific type of cancer that person might have.

For years, however, researchers believed microRNA could only be found inside of cells, making these biomarkers less accessible. But in 2008, a group of researchers discovered microRNA circulating in blood, spawning a wave of interest from other scientists, who viewed microRNA as the key to early cancer detection.

Fay Christodoulou was one such researcher. After spending years studying microRNA’s effects on evolution, Christodoulou, a Greek molecular biologist, shifted her focus to study the connection between microRNA and thyroid cancer. Last year, she decided to take some time off to enter a graduate studies program at Singularity University, a Silicon Valley incubator that challenges people to spend 10 weeks developing a business idea with the power to impact one billion people or more.

It was there that she met Alejandro Tocigl, a Chilean entrepreneur; Gilad Gome, an Israeli biotechnologist; Pablo Olivares, a Chilean doctor; Ferrán Galindo, a serial entrepreneur from Panama; and Jorge Soto, a Mexican electronic engineer and former general director of civic innovation for the Mexican government. Together, they formed a team and developed the bones of what would eventually become Miriam.

“In 10 weeks, to make something from nothing is practically impossible. But what they teach you—in my personal case, for the first time in my life—was in order to disrupt, you don’t need to do 10 years of research,” Christodoulou says. “You’re capable of using pre-existing tools but combining them in a way no one had thought of before.”




Senior Member
Great to see some silicon valley thinking from scientists. It's time they started making changes in this field quicker.

I'd like to see them team up with genetics researchers and gut analysis researchers, metametrix / cdsa's, instead of drug companies. Or at least along with drug companies.

It was interesting to read that biomarkers come and go too. Wonder where that leaves us ?

Tx .. x


Senior Member
Tewari says this method is a smart one, and he credits Miroculus for taking a Silicon Valley approach to the problem, forging ahead with the technology, even while the research that powers it is ongoing. “I think these tracks need to move in parallel,” he says. “I think you need both before we change the world

This is not how science works. However, it's a great way to make money. That seems to be the Silicon Valley mindset.

Cancer is not just one disease and I would think this fact alone works against a simple way to diagnose cancer. The article says than even taking an aspirin or having a virus can affect the result.

Too many chances for a false positive, IMHO.