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J Phys Chem B. 2011 Dec 1;115(47):13891-6. doi: 10.1021/jp205511m. Epub 2011 Nov 7.

Velocity effect on aptamer-based circulating tumor cell isolation in microfluidic devices.

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Department of Bioengineering, University of Texas at Arlington, Arlington, Texas 76010, USA.


The isolation and detection of rare circulating tumor cells (CTCs) has been one of the focuses of intense research recently. In a microfluidic device, a number of factors can influence the enrichment capability of surface-bound probe molecules. This article analyzes the important factor of flow velocity in a microfluidic channel. The competition of surface-grafted anti-EGFR aptamers to bind the overexpressed EGFR on cell membranes against the drag force from the fluid flow is an important efficiency determining factor. The flow rate variations are applied both in experiments and in simulation models to study their effects on CTC capture efficiency. A mixture of mononuclear cells and human Glioblastoma cells is used to isolate cancer cells from the cellular flow. The results show interdependence between the adhesion probability, isolation efficiency, and flow rate. This work can help in designing flow-through lab-on-chip devices that use surface-bound probe affinities against overexpressed biomarkers for cell isolation. This work demonstrates that microfluidic based approaches have strong potential applications in CTC detection and isolation.

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