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J Mol Diagn. 2013 Mar;15(2):149-57. doi: 10.1016/j.jmoldx.2012.09.004. Epub 2012 Dec 22.

Microfluidics and circulating tumor cells.

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On-Q-ity Inc., Waltham, Massachusetts 02451, USA.


Circulating tumor cells (CTCs) are shed from cancerous tumors, enter the circulatory system, and migrate to distant organs to form metastases that ultimately lead to the death of most patients with cancer. Identification and characterization of CTCs provides a means to study, monitor, and potentially interfere with the metastatic process. Isolation of CTCs from blood is challenging because CTCs are rare and possess characteristics that reflect the heterogeneity of cancers. Various methods have been developed to enrich CTCs from many millions of normal blood cells. Microfluidics offers an opportunity to create a next generation of superior CTC enrichment devices. This review focuses on various microfluidic approaches that have been applied to date to capture CTCs from the blood of patients with cancer.

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