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Rapid development in blood analysis – “Sweden is leading the race”

Thousands of analytical tests using just one single drop of blood. What was revealed as a hoax just a few years ago is now a reality, according to KTH professor and serial entrepreneur Mathias Uhlén.

“Development in this field is moving forward at a dazzling speed right now, and Sweden is leading the race,” he says.

Recently, Mathias Uhlén, together with a research group, published a study in which a new strategy for cancer diagnosis was tested. With the help of artificial intelligence, a model was created for the proteins that appear in different types of cancer. The researchers used the method to detect a dozen of the most common types of cancer through the analysis of just one drop of blood.

“We are moving on now, and we are also working with other diseases, such as neurodegenerative, autoimmune and cardiovascular diseases,” says Mathias Uhlén.

He describes the development in the field as revolutionary, and he believes that the fraudulent claims made by the scandal-ridden American company Theranos and its CEO Elisabeth Holmes may now actually become real, and even more than that.

“8 years ago, she claimed that their company could do hundreds of analytical tests with the help of one small drop of blood. Today, we can perform 3,000 analytical tests with a drop of blood. So, what was impossible and a scam back then is reality today”.

The future ambition is for the new method to be used broadly to provide earlier detection of cancer before symptoms appear and lead to cheaper diagnostics, as well as a higher survival rate.

“Imagine, for example, that you screen everybody over the age of 50 every year via home sampling, which is then sent to a lab. If you turn out positive at this pre-screening, you are summoned for a more thorough analysis”.

One problem with this scenario is the risk of false positive test results, but he believes the risk must be weighed against the possibility of saving lives through early detection of a disease.

At the event Lab & Diagnostics of the Future on 12 April, Mathias Uhlén will go into more detail about the cancer project. He will also talk about the new section within the giant project Human Protein Atlas, which has been named the Human Disease Blood Atlas, and which maps which proteins can be linked to various human diseases.

Se mer om eventet Artikeln är en del av vårt tema om News in English.

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