At the Rovira i Virgili University in Catalan, Spain, researchers have developed and patented a microfluidic device for detecting circulating tumor cells within whole blood that originate from breast cancer tumors and which are responsible for metastasis. The device, reported on in journal Scientific Reports, and already tested on blood of breast cancer patients at different stages of the disease, is able to count the number of circulating tumor cells passing through in real time. The technology will hopefully soon find regular clinical use to help monitor and detect the spread of cancer.
A laser diode generates a light signal and a detector measures the size of individual cells that come through. The technique works because a special flow system was developed to create a stream of individual cells that are aligned in one direction. This presents the cells to the detector in a standardized way, allowing for proper measurement of every cell.
The device is compact because all its components can be integrated into a small chip, and a commercial version may be the size of a conventional glucometer, allowing its use during office visits or even at home for regular monitoring of disease progression.
Study in journal Scientific Reports: Optofluidic device for the quantification of circulating tumor cells in breast cancer…