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Velcro Device Captures Circulating Tumor Cells In Blood

A new Velcro-like microfluidic device captures and releases tumor cells circulating in the bloodstream.

| December 24, 2012 | In the Lab

AsianScientist (Dec. 24, 2012) - Researchers at RIKEN report a new Velcro-like microfluidic device that captures and releases tumor cells circulating in the bloodstream.

The device was developed by a team led by Hsiao-hua Yu from the RIKEN Advanced Science Institute in Japan, in research published this month in the journal Advanced Materials.

Using this device, blood is passed over a protein layer that is capable of adhering to tumor cells like Velcro and separating them with efficiency ranging from 40 to 70 percent.

The cancer cells are retained by tiny temperature-responsive, protein-coated polymer brushes inside the device. At 37 degrees Celsius, the polymer brushes stick to the tumor cells, but when cooled to 4 degrees Celsius, they release them, allowing scientists to examine the cells.

The cells are captured at 37 degrees Celcius and released at 4 degrees Celcius (Photo: RIKEN).

The researchers say this method for circulating tumor cell (CTC) detection could provide a convenient and non-invasive alternative to biopsy, the current method for diagnosis of metastatic cancer. It could also help doctors detect tumor cells that circulate in cancer patients' blood well before they subsequently colonize as tumors in other organs.

Unlike similar cell-capture devices, the technology described here is unique in that the tumor cells are kept alive for subsequent study.

"Until now, most devices have demonstrated the ability to capture circulating tumor cells with high efficiency. However, it is equally important to release these captured cells, to preserve and study them in order to obtain insightful information about them. This is the big difference with our device," said senior author Hsiao-hua Yu.

The article can be found at: Hou S et al. (2012) Capture and Stimulated Release of Circulating Tumor Cells on Polymer-Grafted Silicon Nanostructures.


Source: RIKEN; Photo: quatar/Flickr/CC.
Disclaimer: This article does not necessarily reflect the views of AsianScientist or its staff.

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