Circulating tumor cells (CTCs) are very specific biomarkers found in blood that signal the existence of cancer in the body. Capturing and identifying these cells offers the possibility of early screening for a variety of cancers and the initiation of treatment before the disease spreads beyond control. Because CTCs are extremely rare, there’s been a lot of research work done around the world to create methods to efficiently capture these cells. Yet, because most of these methods rely on using antibodies to stick to and grab CTCs, the captured cells are no longer naked and so are difficult to analyze.
Clearbridge BioMedics, a firm based in Singapore, has released a new device for detecting CTCs that does not require the use of antibodies or any other labeling methods to filter out the target cells. Developed with help from Cambridge Consultants, a product design and consulting firm, the ClearCell FX system features at its core the CTChip FR, a small device that uses fluid dynamics to separate out CTCs based on larger size and greater density compared to other cells within blood. Once isolated, the cells are intact and viable, ready for further testing to identify mutations and help decide between therapy options.
Some details on the workings of the CTChip FR according to the product page:
The CTChip® FR uses inherent Dean vortex flows present in curvilinear channels, termed Dean Flow Fractionation (DFF), to isolate CTCs based on size and inertia, relative to other blood components.
Through the process of DFF, blood cells separate and distribute themselves within the channels, with the larger cells along the inner wall and the smaller cells away from the inner wall, thereby producing an effective and rapid separation without compromising on the quality of retrieved cells.
Product page: ClearCell FX System…
Press releases: Clearbridge BioMedics reveals ClearCell® FX, next generation label-free cancer cell enrichment system at ASCO 2013; New era in cancer diagnostics – Novel development for improved cancer diagnosis and treatment monitoring