BUFFALO, NY - We often take for granted how powerful our bodies are. Specifically the our cells in our body and the information they contain that can provide doctors better information about your health. Your cells can provide information like how the body is responding to chemotherapy or enzyme secretions the heart pumps out that could lead to a heart attack.
All of this data is locked away inside your body and not easily accessible in real time, until now.
“Efferent Labs is a company working to help those afflicted with diseases such as cancer and heart disease by using their own cells as a sensor to feed information back to the physicians,” said Bill Rader, founder and CEO of Efferent Labs
It sounds like science fiction, something seen on a Saturday night rerun of Star Trek. In fact, that’s what the United States Patent and Trade Office said to when Efferent Labs filed their initial patents.
“It took forever to get the patents approved by the US PTO,” Rader said.
The idea centers around a wireless sensor, implanted in the body, that is able to read the data living cells. Data such as proteins, biomarkers and medications in the body and how they react under different conditions. Then, somehow output data to a smart device to provide cellular function feedback in real time to your doctor
“One of the things about this technology is we can not do off the shelf, because it doesn’t exist," said Dr. Spencer Rosero. "So this will be the first cell embedded biosensor that has been created that can be implanted”
Dr. Rosero developed this idea at the University of Rochester in the early 2000's. The system would use a cartridge that cells could grow on and act as a sensor. The cartridge is then placed within a small chip that would use photonics to read the data from your cells.
“Very similar to this microscope, except this microscope is very big hard to implant under the skin,” said Rosero.
If you’re unfamiliar, photonics is the science of light detection, generation and manipulation and an industry Rochester and New York State is betting big on. A $600 million photonics institute is being developed in the Flower City, amid much anticipation
“It all has to be implantable it all has to be wireless," said Rosero. "All that software is being developed in Buffalo, a lot of the wireless capabilities are being designed now.”
So how is this going to affect patients? Efferent believes this could have a big impact on chemotherapy and how it’s administered. In their research Efferent has determined Chemotherapy is administered with older, less personalized methods.
“Body mass index, body surface area, and a few other items like that," said Rader. "I hate to say it, it’s not a guess it’s a calculated estimate of what the individual needs.”
Efferent Labs system will be able to monitor a cancer patient's cells after a chemo to see how the body reacts to the treatment, “Then we’re able to adjust the dosage based on the actual reactions to the medicines.”
Currently, Dr. Rosero, along with University of Rochester’s Dr. Edward Brown and his team in the Department of Neuroscience Biomedical Engineering, continue miniaturize and fine tune the device, a team in Buffalo is finalizing the software that the doctors will use to offer patients more personalized treatment options.
“This is the true promise of personalized medicine," said Rader. "You don’t get more personal than your own cells.”
To learn more about Efferent Labs visit their website.