Ever since they were discovered in 1997, Endothelial Progenitor Cells (EPC) have become the targets of scientists who hope to explore the potential of these cells in the process of cardiovascular damage and repair.
So what is EPC? According to MedTerms.com (an online medical dictionary), EPC is “a primitive cell made in the bone marrow that can enter the bloodstream and go to areas of blood vessel injury to help repair the damage”.
The number of EPC in the blood can be used to assess the risk factors in cardiovascular disease. A shortage or ageing of endothelial progenitor cells might cause blood vessel disease.
A study released on September 8, 2005 concluded that patients with higher level of circulating endothelial progenitor cells detected in their bloodstream experienced fewer repeat heart attacks. Meanwhile, a number of small phase clinical trials have indicated EPC as a potential treatment for various types of cardiovascular disease (CVD).
Detection of EPC level of suspected heart disease patients within the shortest duration is crucial because it would help doctors provide timely treatment to their patients. Unfortunately, the conventional method, known as flow cytometry, would need between 4 and 5 hours to get the results. This is obviously not fast enough to treat acute cases.
Recently, A*STAR Institute of Microelectronics (IME) announced that they have invented a new device that could rapidly detect the level of EPC in a heart disease patient. With the help of so-called microfluidic system, the device requires just a finger prick of blood from that patient.
For more information on microfluidic system and A*STAR Institute of Microelectronics (IME), please visit their website via the following link: