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One Goat's Million-Dollar Blood Is Fueling Cancer Research

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Once there was a goat living somewhere in North America. The goat, fed, kept warm, lived out its life in support of biomedical research. No one--not the company that owned it, nor the researchers who purchased compounds purified from its blood--had any idea that it was unique. But this one golden goat would end up becoming key in the development of a promising new cancer treatment and detection technology.

The story begins in 2004, before a group of cancer researchers' path even collided with this special goat. Mehmet Toner, a biomedical engineer at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, and Ravi Kapur, a biotech entrepreneur, had been attempting to commercialize a new system developed in Toner’s lab. It looked like a small, silver rectangle about an inch wide and two inches long. Etched into its silicon surface, barely visible to the eye, was a maze designed to thread blood around a series of microscopic posts that trapped fetal cells The device had been engineered to capture fetal cells in a pregnant woman’s blood, but it could be used to find different kinds of floating cells, too. Why not use it to catch floating cancer cells? Read more ...