Circulating tumor cells (CTCs) are identified in transit within the blood stream of cancer patients and have been proven to be a main cause of metastatic disease. Current approaches for the size-based isolation of CTCs have encountered technical challenges as some of the CTCs have a size similar to that of leukocytes and therefore CTCs are often lost in the process. Here, we propose a novel strategy where most of the CTCs are coated by a large number of microbeads to amplify their size to enable complete discrimination from leukocytes. In addition, all of the microbead labeling processes are carried out in a continuous manner to prevent any loss of CTCs during the isolation process. Thus, a microfluidic mixer was employed to facilitate the efficient and selective labeling of CTCs from peripheral blood samples. By generating secondary vortex flows called Taylor-Gortler vortices perpendicular to the main flow direction in our microfluidic device, CTCs were continuously and successfully coated with anti-epithelial cell adhesion molecule-conjugated beads. After the continuous labeling, the enlarged CTCs were perfectly trapped in a micro-filter whereas all of the leukocytes escaped.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This study was supported in part by the National R&D Program for Cancer Control, Ministry of Health & Welfare, Republic of Korea (grant no. 1120290 ) and by a research program (grant no. 2011-0016731 ) through the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) and the Public welfare & Safety research program through the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) funded by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (grant no. 20110020959 ).
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Biomedical Engineering