VIDEO: A microscopic look at a new diagnostics technology that promises to deliver ‘liquid biopsies’ for cancer patients. The device uses acoustics and microfluidics to gently and accurately separate circulating tumor… view more
DURHAM, N.C. — 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 are perfect. They tend to damage or kill the cells in the process, lack efficiency, only work on
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