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"What appeals to me most is people-centered design."

The student Mikel Sanchez has developed a Point of Care device to detect lung cancer markers, within his PFG.

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The student Mikel Sanchez PHOTO: Courtesy
28/10/20 12:50 Communication Service

The Industrial Design and Product Development student Mikel Sanchez has defended this week his Final Degree Project. "My project consisted of the design and development of a Point of Care device to detect lung cancer markers, mainly in collaboration with CEIT, although Biodonostia, BiomaGUNE and the CFM are also involved in the project", says Mikel. Point of Care devices are those that bring medical diagnostic tests closer to, or near, the patient's point of care. In this case, the aim is to avoid having to send samples to laboratories for tumor diagnosis, a process that can take weeks. 

With a device like this, can these times be reduced?

Yes, it is possible to reduce the time to less than an hour. Markers are substances in cancer cells that provide information about the cancer. They have evolved from proteins to genomic markers, such as gene mutations (i.e., changes in the DNA of a tumor). 

Why did you choose this topic for your GFP? 

When I started to specialize in Product Design it was quite clear to me that what attracts me most is design focused on people and groups, to be able to help people with what I am able to do. That's why design applied to biomedicine attracted my attention, and when I received the offer of this project I didn't hesitate. 

What has this project given you?

It has been very enriching for me on a personal level, because of what I said before, to have been able to carry out a project related to biomedical research. It has also been a challenge to do research on this type of topic, because when I started I hardly knew what cancer was, in addition to gaining experience in a multidisciplinary environment. It has been very satisfying to design not only the actual device, in which the users are the biomedical researchers themselves, but also possible evolutions in the formal design for an end user. 

What practical applications can it have? 

The main practical application of the final device, when commercialized, is the detection of lung cancer markers without having to send samples to the laboratory, which would speed up and reduce the cost of the process. Healthcare is changing, partly for economic reasons and because an effort is being made to put the patient at the center of attention. In addition, in many countries there is no possibility of doing this type of analysis in time, a Point of Care device facilitates the opportunity to help them and favors areas with low population density where specialists are far away. Regarding my part in the project, I have designed and prototyped a functional device for the researchers themselves to continue advancing the project, as well as future designs for when it is commercialized. 

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