Circulating tumor cells can point to the existence of cancer and provide information about its progression. Capturing these cells remains a tricky process. Dozens of devices have been developed that do their best to grab onto only the cancer cells being looked for, but they all suffer from problems such as poor efficiency, damage to the captured cells, and manufacturing complexity.
Researchers at Georgia Tech have now 3D printed a device that works in a novel way to filter out red and white blood cells, leaving only tumor cells that are unharmed and ready for genetic analysis.
The device requires very little prep work, uses a reasonably small amount of blood, and doesn’t require much technical knowledge to operate.
Since the technology is not designed to seek out specific cancer cells, it can capture most cells that are cancerous. This is because the “negative enrichment” process, as the researchers call it, focuses on getting rid of the vast majority of the blood’s normal components.
The new device required very long and winding channels that work to capture blood cells. These channels would normally get clogged by the printing wax, but the researchers were able to heat and spin them in a centrifuge. This cleaned out the channels so that sample blood can pass through.
An antigen deposited within the channels is designed to capture white blood cells, while a commercial filter separates red cells from the remaining few white blood cells and circulating tumor cells.
Study in journal Lab on a Chip: Hybrid negative enrichment of circulating tumor cells from whole blood in a 3D-printed monolithic device
Via: Georgia Tech