Engineering a better device to capture — and release — circulating tumor cells
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VIDEO: A team led by Yaling Liu, Lehigh University associate professor of mechanical engineering and mechanics, and Shu Yang, University of Pennsylvania professor of materials science, has developed a promising technique… view more 

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For years, bioengineer Yaling Liu has been in pursuit of the deadly tumor cell. Liu has been perfecting a microfluidic device the size of two quarters that has the ability to catch and release circulating tumor cells (CTCs)–cancer cells that circulate in a cancer patient’s blood. Such a device could lead to earlier detection of primary tumors and metastasis, as well as determine the effectiveness of treatment–all through a simple, non-invasive blood test.

Liu, a faculty member in both bioengineering and mechanical engineering at Lehigh University, is in the early stages of testing his device in a clinical setting–and the results are promising.

Liu’s “lab on a chip” is notable for its ability to not only capture tumor cells circulating in the blood, but to “release” those cells as well.

“Our circulating tumor cell device can release a tumor cell captured from a blood sample, enabling single cell analysis,” says Liu. “It could be used to check the effectiveness of treatment, by identifying the amount of tumor

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