One of the coolest technological advances that I have heard about had to do with jellyfish inspired tentacles that capture cancer cells. These tiny strands of DNA that are like jellyfish tentacles can grab and hold on to tumor cells that are in the blood stream. The device can be used to both count the cells as well as sort them. This is a really cool advancement because it could help to tell doctors how chemotherapy is working; if the cells are becoming fewer and far between then it is working, but if there starts to show up different kinds of cancer cells then they know that the cancer has developed immunity and has possibly changed.
The actual device they created is a microchip that has these short strands of DNA (called aptamers) attached to it. These aptamer strands can bind with targeted cancer cells. So while one side of the strand is connected to the microchip the other side is floating in the blood stream collecting cancer cells much like the jellyfish tentacles collect food. With this method they are able to collect about sixty percent of cancer cells floating by. This may not seem like a high percentage but compared to other methods such as using small magnets, it is much better. Although this technology has a little ways to go, Jeffrey Chalmer, an expert in cell sorting technology said the “initial data for this project looks promising”.