• To detect cancerous cells, the new method uses something called tilted-angle standing surface acoustic waves. Think of it as a tiny cellular luge running down the center of two transducers that emit sound waves. When the sound waves bump up against cells coursing down the cellular luge, they deflect them just a tiny bit. The amount of deflection depends on the cell’s size, density and compressibility.
  • Malignant cells will deflect differently than normal white blood cells, and the luge is designed in such a way that it routes cancerous cells down one side of a split track, while healthy cells slide down the other side. 
  • Scientists have used sound to separate out cancerous from normal cells before with good results in the lab, but the process had been slow. The new method is faster and up to 20 times better at separating cancer cells from white blood cells than previous acoustic devices, according to the study. 

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