When properly understood, knowledge of the interaction and communication of cells with each other and their environment can be applied to the diagnosis and treatment of disease. For example, a recent study1 has shown that expression of CD11b on the surface of neutrophils increases during infection. This observation is the basis for a rapid screening test for dangerous early-onset neonatal infections that can provide confirmation of an infection in a few hours, as opposed to one or two days. Because less than 6 percent of the 300,000 newborns in the United States treated annually for suspected infections actually have an infection, such a test could spare thousands of children from needless treatments and save millions of dollars.

The OnCyte Diagnostic System, from CompuCyte Corp., of Cambridge, Mass., provides the technology for such a rapid test. This system employs a laser-based cellular analyzer to establish a new class of cell-based...

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