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Lab Chip. 2014 Jan 7;14(1):99-105. doi: 10.1039/c3lc50912e.

Paired diagnostic and pharmacodynamic analysis of rare non-small cell lung cancer cells enabled by the VerIFAST platform.

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Department of Biomedical Engineering, Wisconsin Institutes for Medical Research, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1111 Highland Ave., Madison, WI, USA.


Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States and worldwide. This has led to major research initiatives focusing on improving early diagnosis rate, as well as the development of pharmacodynamic biomarkers. However, broad clinical integration of these approaches is limited due to the invasive nature of lung biopsies, needle aspirates and resections. Recently, an advance for sampling suspicious lung nodules to collect mini-bronchoalveolar lavage (mBAL) samples was shown to be diagnostically relevant but limited by standard cytology techniques leading to low sensitivity and specificity. In addition, a second non-invasive method that holds great promise is the collection of circulating tumor cells, a rare population of tumor cells that have shed into peripheral circulation from primary or metastatic tumor sites, from blood. Here, we utilize a recently published platform, VerIFAST, for the capture and proteomic analysis of rare cells, to isolate cells of interest from lung cancer patients using both mBAL and blood samples. The VerIFAST platform leverages surface tension at the microscale to pin aqueous and oil fluids in adjacent chambers to create a virtual filter between two aqueous fluids. In this manuscript, the VerIFAST was further enhanced to include oil pinning, which allowed on-device tumbling, further eliminating a laborious and time consuming step that could result in increased sample loss. Finally, we further developed the base assays used in standard histopathologic assays for diagnostic and pharmacodynamic analysis of these rare lung cancer cells. Specifically, we examined thyroid transcription factor-1 (TTF-1) signal intensity, in which loss is associated with more aggressive disease, and epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) signal intensity, which is a high value therapeutic target in lung cancer.

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