Designing a microscale lab

It’s not easy to find circulating tumor cells (CTCs). Émigrés from distant tumors, CTCs are incredibly rare—as few as one in a billion cells in human blood in fact. At that density, it takes extraordinary luck to glimpse CTCs under a microscope—unless you enrich for them.

In 2007, researchers in Mehmet Toner’s lab at the Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School developed a microfluidic device for enriching CTCs. Microfluidics, the manipulation and application of fluid properties and dynamics on the microliter or nanoliter scale, increasingly popular in the life sciences, is being used to automate and downsize reactions, boost reproducibility, and conduct experiments at the single-cell stage. By forcing blood cells to slowly flow through a vast forest of 78,000 “microposts,” each coated with antibodies to the tumor cell antigen EpCAM, Toner’s “CTC-chip” maximized cell-antibody interactions, capturing CTCs with ~65% efficiency… Read more at BioTechniques. (PDF)


~ by jeffreyperkel on March 11, 2015.

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