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Int J Cancer. 2018 Dec 26. doi: 10.1002/ijc.32092. [Epub ahead of print]

Microfluidic enrichment, isolation and characterization of disseminated melanoma cells from lymph node samples.

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Division of Personalized Tumour Therapy, Fraunhofer Institute for Toxicology and Experimental Medicine, 93053, Regensburg, Germany.
Experimental Medicine and Therapy Research, University of Regensburg, 93053, Regensburg, Germany.
Department of Surgery, University Medical Center, 93053, Regensburg, Germany.
Department of Dermatology, University Hospital Regensburg, 93053, Regensburg, Germany.


For the first time in melanoma, novel therapies have recently shown efficacy in the adjuvant therapy setting, which makes companion diagnostics to guide treatment decisions a desideratum. Early spread of disseminated cancer cells (DCC) to sentinel lymph nodes (SLN) is indicative of poor prognosis in melanoma and early DCCs could therefore provide important information about the malignant seed. Here, we present a strategy for enrichment of DCCs from SLN suspensions using a microfluidic device (Parsortix™, Angle plc). This approach enables the detection and isolation of viable DCCs, followed by molecular analysis and identification of genetic changes. By optimizing the workflow, the established protocol allows a high recovery of DCC from melanoma patient-derived lymph node (LN) suspensions with harvest rates above 60%. We then assessed the integrity of the transcriptome and genome of individual, isolated DCCs. In LNs of melanoma patients, we detected the expression of melanoma-associated transcripts including MLANA (encoding for MelanA protein), analyzed the BRAF and NRAS mutational status and confirmed the malignant origin of isolated melanoma DCCs by comparative genomic hybridization. We demonstrate the feasibility of epitope-independent isolation of LN DCCs using Parsortix™ for subsequent molecular characterization of isolated single DCCs with ample application fields including the use for companion diagnostics or subsequent cellular studies in personalized medicine.


disseminated cancer cells; lymph node analysis; melanoma; microfluidics; single cell analysis


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