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On the hunt for rare cancer cells
Date:11/12/2012

es 1 square centimeter, the flow rate is 1 milliliter per hour. By making the device larger, the researchers say they could boost the flow rate to 100 milliliters of blood per hour fast enough to rapidly process the 10- to 20-milliliter samples that would be needed to get an accurate CTC count from an individual patient.

Because the "tentacles" are made of DNA, they can easily be cleaved with enzymes, freeing the captured cells for further analysis.

Minimally invasive

Devices that capture CTCs could offer a better alternative to sampling bone marrow in determining whether cancer treatment is working in a leukemia patient.

"If one could improve the sensitivity of detection in blood, then this approach may enable a transition from isolating marrow to isolating blood, which is much less invasive and you can do it more often. It could change the paradigm for how residual disease is detected," Karp says.

"The beauty of this technology is its versatility," Zhao says. "You can easily modify the length and density of the DNA chains; you can include different sequences in the DNA to capture different types of cells."

This feature makes it a platform technology that can be broadly applied in the clinic and research laboratories. For instance, another possible application is capturing fetal cells, which are very rare in a pregnant woman's bloodstream. Analyzing these cells could help doctors perform prenatal diagnostic tests for a range of diseases using an approach that is far less invasive than amniocentesis.

The researchers are now working on adapting the DNA strands to target other molecules, such as receptors found on the surfaces of cells dislodged from solid tumors.


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Contact: Kimberly Allen
allenkc@mit.edu
617-253-2702
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Source:Eurekalert

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