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U. professor creates device to speed up white blood cell measuring process

The CytoTracker Leukometer, a new device, allows for a much shorter turnaround time for patients who need white blood cells measured.  – Photo by Ajay Kumar Chaurasiya /

A Rutgers researcher and his startup company have created a new, more accessible device to measure white blood cells, a critical indicator of immune system health, according to a press release

The device, called the CytoTracker Leukometer, has the ability to count a patient's white blood cells with a drop of blood.

Mehdi Javanmard, a professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, is the lead developer of the CytoTracker Leukometer and co-founder of the startup RizLab Health Inc.

Javanmard said his startup was created out of his University lab after realizing that there is a pressing need for a way to track and record white blood cells in an efficient manner.

"Patients who have disease conditions where they need to get their white blood cell counts monitored, they have to give a full tube of blood," Javanmard said. "In the best case, if it's a bit of a high-end hospital facility, maybe in an hour or two, they can get their results back. They usually have to wait a day or two."

He said most modern white blood cell tracking methods are inefficient due to the amount of time it takes for patients to get their results, especially when considering how backed up emergency rooms have become since the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Javanmard's end goal is to eventually bring the CytoTracker Leukometer to clinical settings, where patients can receive their white blood cell counts at a much faster rate, he said.

"Similar to a glucometer ... you take the tracker right to where the patient is, and you do near-patient testing, pick a small amount of blood and, within minutes, you get results. You can totally change things," Javanmard said.

He said the patient populations that would benefit the most from the CytoTracker Leukometer are patients who have treatment-resistant psychosis, have infectious diseases or are undergoing chemotherapy.

For example, Clozapine is an antipsychotic drug that requires long-term white blood cell monitoring. This is because it can result in neutropenia, a condition that occurs when a patient has too few neutrophils, which are a type of white blood cell, Javanmard said.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires that these patients get frequent blood tests in order to receive a prescription for their medication. This repetitive process takes days and results in low compliance, which causes fewer physicians to prescribe the potentially life-saving drug, Javanmard said.

"Imagine having a device like this sitting at a pharmacy. Patients, when they're going to go to get their medication, they give a drop of blood, get their test and if it's good, they pick up their medication — all in the same visit," he said.

The CytoTracker Leukometer is currently in the process of starting clinical trials, which must be approved by the FDA in order for the device to be marketed to manufacturers and commercialized.

"(The CytoTracker Leukometer) allows patients to get the treatment they need much more rapidly," Javanmard said. "Hospitals will have better outcomes for their patients. They'll save money ... We can discharge patients faster, and we can give them the treatment that they need much more rapidly. So, it ends up being a win-win for everybody."

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