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Effective Collection of Biliary Tract Cells for Cancer Screening

Team Members:
  • Nathan Buchbinder
  • Nayan Agarwal
  • Lindsay Bauer
  • Miguel Dias
  • Kush Gupta
  • Patawan Jareonvongrayab
  • Renu Kondragunta
  • Vignesh Ramchandran
  • Clifford Weiss, MD
  • Luis Diaz, MD


Existing brush biopsy technology for the collection of biliary tract cells collects a large enough sample (5000 cells) only 40 percent of the time, resulting in inconclusive pathology reports for the diagnosis of cancer and other GI diseases. To meet this clinical need, a modified brush has been designed that collects a larger quantity of cells. The device consists of a flexible drive shaft 1.5m in length and with a bend radius of between 2 and 4cm, allowing for rotational control of the brush. The brush head is helical in shape, with a length of 1.5cm and helix radius of 0.75mm, resulting in a pitch of 32.5 degrees with 5 rotations and a hollow core 1mm in radius that provides a space for cell collection. Surface coating with electropositive biopolymers similar to poly-L-lysine and chitin were found to significantly improve cell adhesion by as much as 350 percent compared to existing nylon coatings. Bristles of various hook and loop designs were designed, and are in the process of being prototyped and tested.

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