Sound Waves for Liquid Biopsies—Acoustic Microfluidic Platform Separates Circulating Tumor Cells (CTCs) from Blood Samples

Using sound waves, an international team of researchers has developed a gentle, contact-free method for separating circulating tumor cells from blood samples that is fast and efficient enough for clinical use. Circulating tumor cells (CTCs) are small pieces of a tumor that break away and flow through the bloodstream. They contain a wealth of information about the tumor, such as its type, physical characteristics, and genetic mutations. The ability to quickly and efficiently harvest and grow these cells from a blood sample would enable "liquid biopsies" capable of providing robust diagnosis, prognosis, and suggestions for treatment strategies based on individual CTC profiling. CTCs are, however, extremely rare and difficult to catch. There are typically only a handful for every few billion blood cells running through a patient's veins. And while there are many technologies designed to separate tumor cells from normal blood cells, none of them is perfect. They tend to damage or kill the cells in the process, lack efficiency, only work on specific types of cancer, or take far too long to be used in many situations. In a new study, researchers from Duke University, MIT, and Nanyang Technological University (Singapore) demonstrate a platform based on sound waves that is capable of separating CTCs from a 7.5-mL vial of blood with at least 86 percent efficiency in less than an hour. With additional improvements, the researchers hope the technology will form the basis of a new test through an inexpensive, disposable chip. The results were published online on July 3, 2018 in the journal Small. The article is titled “Circulating Tumor Cell Phenotyping via High‐Throughput Acoustic Separation.”
Login Or Register To Read Full Story