It is truly gratifying to reflect on the progress of our Boost project. Having secured grants in 2022, our primary objective was to develop a portable cell counter utilizing disposable microfluidic cartridges and a Bluetooth-connected neutrophil count reader, as illustrated in the conceptual prototype attached (© BeyondBlood). Neutrophils serve as a crucial clinical marker for evaluating chemotherapeutic toxicity in cancer patients. Our ambition was to facilitate rapid, at-home testing through a simple finger prick, alleviating patients from the challenges of appointments, travel, painful waiting, and the physical and mental anxiety preceding result delivery.

Our initial plan involved sorting blood cells on microfluidic cartridges and counting neutrophils using the Multi Pixel Photon Counter (MPPC) due to its self-fluorescence property. However, during the early stages of development, we encountered challenges in achieving precise blood cell sorting, and the self-fluorescence of neutrophils did not distinctly differentiate them from other cells. While we firmly believe in the viability of our idea, addressing these technical issues within the confines of a student project proved impractical.

Notably, Manfredi, one of the original members of our team, has taken the initiative to launch a startup named BeyondBlood to carry forward the development and commercialization of our portable blood counter concept. BeyondBlood is a seed-stage spin-out from Imperial College London, and from a technical standpoint, we are exploring advanced cell sorting and detection technologies. The company has welcomed new members with expertise in both research and business, further enriching our collective intelligence. Our shared aspiration is that our innovative idea will eventually make a meaningful impact in aiding cancer patients and emerge as a success.

Visit the BeyondBlood website to find out more.