As our modern societies continue to make significant inroads into DNA research and nanotech, the Karius company is making headlines this morning for its new biopsy technology.
Reporting from TechCrunch shows that Karius’s blood tests can “test for infection-causing pathogens in immunocompromised pediatric patients, and for potential causes of complex pneumonia, fungal infections and endocarditis.”
As the piece points out, this type of micro-biopsy from analyzing a patient’s blood has been looked at quite a bit in connection to various kinds of cancer diagnosis and in guiding treatment options.
The technology, according to Karius chief exec Mickey Kertesz, saves lives. TechCrunch quotes Kertesz:
“As humanity we haven’t figured out infectious diseases yet … Specifically at the stage where the pathogen is identified. Karius has the technology to do that — although it doesn’t yet have the capability to screen for RNA viruses … It’s the only type of virus that the platform is unable to detect… [We’re] adding that detection capability.”
With the Karius system, a machine learning and computer vision program looks for microbial signatures in a blood sample, testing that sample against enormous public databases.
These biopsies are estimated to cost $2000 a piece, but as a replacement for physical tissue biopsy, they recommend they represent tremendous efficiencies.
“The appeal of a simple blood test to detect and analyze cancer is obvious,” wrote Siegel for Fred Hutch News Service last year. “It could replace the necessary evil of tissue biopsies — invasive, often risky and painful procedures to collect tumor cells with a needle or through surgery. A vial of blood sounds like a better trade than a chunk of tissue.”
Does this new tech factor into your healthcare portfolio?