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Sci Rep. 2013;3:1259. doi: 10.1038/srep01259. Epub 2013 Feb 12.

Isolation and retrieval of circulating tumor cells using centrifugal forces.

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Department of Electrical Engineering & Computer Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, USA.


Presence and frequency of rare circulating tumor cells (CTCs) in bloodstreams of cancer patients are pivotal to early cancer detection and treatment monitoring. Here, we use a spiral microchannel with inherent centrifugal forces for continuous, size-based separation of CTCs from blood (Dean Flow Fractionation (DFF)) which facilitates easy coupling with conventional downstream biological assays. Device performance was optimized using cancer cell lines (> 85% recovery), followed by clinical validation with positive CTCs enumeration in all samples from patients with metastatic lung cancer (n = 20; 5-88 CTCs per mL). The presence of CD133⁺ cells, a phenotypic marker characteristic of stem-like behavior in lung cancer cells was also identified in the isolated subpopulation of CTCs. The spiral biochip identifies and addresses key challenges of the next generation CTCs isolation assay including antibody independent isolation, high sensitivity and throughput (3 mL/hr); and single-step retrieval of viable CTCs.

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