Art and Science of Laboratory Medicine

Art and Science of Laboratory Medicine

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Point-of-care testing for blood cell count

With the arrival of the 21. Century we have witnessed automatisation on the market. Bringing machines and informatics to workplaces with a lot of people and/or samples circulating, we have made it both easier and faster to get the necessary results. That is the very reason the automatisation had to come to the laboratories. Even though in the laboratories there is laboratory staff specifically educated for maneuvering with machines designed for preanalytical and analytical parts of the analisis, today there are machines operating on laboratory samples outside of the laboratory. Glucometers and different opium detecting tests are very common these days, however, is there a way of detecting leukemias and infections from the ones home?

The answer has been brought to us by Athelas. Athelas is the first ever in – home blood diagnostic platform. Its base is counting white blood cells and facilitating the control over the progress of the disease of chemo patients, immunocompromised patients and ones submissive to different infections. The way Athelas works is similar to glucometers. Take a simple prick of blood with lancet, press against the Test Strip, and stick it into the system. Within a few minutes an integrated cell counting app will appear on your monitor.

From the Athelas Company they explain that Athelas is built on deep learning technology that uses machine vision to rapidly analyze blood cells and generate diagnostic reports. Instead of traditional coulter counting or flow based techniques (such as flow cytometry) Athelas is able to maintain a high degree of precision on drop samples; performing with greater accuracy than other existing technologies.

Blood cell counts enable a rapid analysis of a patient's various immune, hematological, and general conditions. Athelas is primary made for immunocompromised patients who aim to monitor their white blood cell counts more often and it forces them to visit the doctor and the laboratory frequently. With Athelas they'd be provided with technology to monitor their WBCs at home and better determine when it is really necessary to visit a doctor. WBCs offer a unique insight as to this - indicating anything from inflammatory response, all the way to leukemia based on cell count ranges.

However, Athelas is not providing us only with white blood cell counters, it also has the ability to count the erythrocytes, diagnosing the anemias and polycythemias; it offers differential blood count and hematocrit as well. In the Athelas Company they are working on the ability to analise UTI (urine tract infections) and pyurias from a single drop of urine.

Athelas is regulated as a Class 1 Exempt Device under Product Codes GHO and KPA by the FDA. They are in filing process for the a range of tests under the 510(k) product code GLK and GKZ. [1]

Athelas is currently still in the testing phase, it has been tested by 25 clinics, of which the first one was FEMAP (First Episode Mood and Anxiety Program) hospital. It has been approved for the in – home testing and people who decide to test it at home can do it for the price of 99$. The Athelas staff promises a 24 hour online support. You can get it on the Athelas official website: .

Author: Ines Poljak,  cand. for bacc. med. lab. diagn.
Images: Athelas


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