Cancer is a leading cause of mortality worldwide causing human deaths. Circulating tumor cells (CTCs) are cells that have detached from a primary tumor and circulate in the bloodstream; they may constitute seeds for subsequent growth of additional tumors (metastasis) in different tissues. The detection of CTCs may have important prognostic and therapeutic implications but, because their number is very small, these cells are not easily detected. Circulating tumor cells are found in the order of 10-100 CTCs per mL of whole blood in patients with metastatic disease. Isolation of tumor cells circulating in the blood stream, by immobilizing them on surfaces functionalized with bio-active coating within microfluidic devices, presents an interdisciplinary challenge requiring expertise in different research areas: cell biology, surface chemistry, fluid mechanics and microsystem technology. We first review the fundamental of cell biology of CTCs and summarize the key microfluidic techniques for isolation of CTCs via cell-ligand interactions, magnetic interactions, filtration; detection and enumeration of CTCs; in vivo CTCs imaging.
- Circulating tumor cells (CTC)
- Epithelial-mesenchymal transitions
- Micro-electro mechanical system (MEMS)
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Mathematical Physics
- Mechanical Engineering