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Biomed Microdevices. 2013 Aug;15(4):673-81. doi: 10.1007/s10544-012-9718-8.

Immunomagnetic nanoscreening of circulating tumor cells with a motion controlled microfluidic system.

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  • 1Department of Biomedical Engineering, The University of Texas at Austin, University Station, Austin, TX 78712-0238, USA.


Combining the power of immunomagnetic assay and microfluidic microchip operations, we successfully detected rare CTCs from clinical blood samples. The microfluidic system is operated in a flip-flop mode, where a computer-controlled rotational holder with an array of microfluidic chips inverts the microchannels. We have demonstrated both theoretically and experimentally that the direction of red blood cell (RBC) sedimentation with regards to the magnetic force required for cell separation is important for capture efficiency, throughput, and purity. The flip-flop operation reduces the stagnation of RBCs and non-specific binding on the capture surface by alternating the direction of the magnetic field with respect to gravity. The developed immunomagnetic microchip-based screening system exhibits high capture rates (more than 90%) for SkBr3, PC3, and Colo205 cell lines in spiked screening experiments and successfully isolates CTCs from patient blood samples. The proposed motion controlled microchip-based immunomagnetic system shows great promise as a clinical tool for cancer diagnosis and prognosis.

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