One of the most common causes of death relating to cancer in patients with solid tumours is caused by tumour cells that break off from primary tumours. They can travel to other organs and tissues in the body and set up secondary tumour colonies known as metastasise. These cells once in the peripheral bloodstream are known as circulating tumour cells (CTCs). Detection of these cells could provide critical information for managing the spread of cancer and monitoring the effectiveness of cancer therapies.
The benchmark for analysis of tumours is still through a metastatic solid biopsy unfortunately this approach is difficult to apply in the early stages of cancer. It is thought that by capturing CTCs liquid biopsies could be performed to capture the break-away tumour cells floating in the peripheral bloodstream and allow for earlier detection.
Isolating and detecting these CTCs in the blood is technically very difficult due to their low abundance (a few per millilitre) to a large amount of other cells in the blood.
This hasnt stopped a group of researchers at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and the California Nanosystems Institute at UCLA who have developed a system to do just this. They have designed an efficinet cell capture platform based on 3D nanoscale silicon pillars with far higher efficiency then any other method.
This revolutionary cell capture technique has a very viability, which means the cells can be extracted and grown in culture allowing molecular diagnosis of cancer. Ultimately this would allow for earlier detection of cancer. This in itself would allow for a better prognosis with disease diagnosis. As with many types of cancer early detection allows for more successful treatment.
Not only this as measuring abundance of cancer cells in the peripheral blood will allow for monitoring the efficacy of cancer treatments to monitor disease regression. – CT