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UCLA researchers use 'nano-Velcro' technology to improve capture of circulating cancer cells
Date:3/7/2011

Circulating tumor cells, which play a crucial role in cancer metastasis, have been known to science for more than 100 years, and researchers have long endeavored to track and capture them. Now, a UCLA research team has developed an innovative device based on Velcro-like nanoscale technology to efficiently identify and "grab" these circulating tumor cells, or CTCs, in the blood.

Metastasis is the most common cause of cancer-related death in patients with solid tumors and occurs when these marauding tumor cells leave the primary tumor site and travel through the blood stream to set up colonies in other parts of the body.

The current gold standard for determining the disease status of tumors involves the invasive biopsy of tumor samples, but in the early stages of metastasis, it is often difficult to identify a biopsy site. By capturing CTCs in blood samples, doctors can essentially perform a "liquid" biopsy, allowing for early detection and diagnosis, as well as improved monitoring of cancer progression and treatment responses.

In a study published this month and featured on the cover of the journal Angewandte Chemie, the UCLA researchers announce the successful demonstration of this "nano-Velcro" technology, which they engineered into a 2.5-by-5centimeter microfluidic chip. This second-generation CTC-capture technology was shown to be capable of highly efficient enrichment of rare CTCs captured in blood samples collected from prostate cancer patients.

The new approach could be even faster and cheaper than existing methods, and it captures a greater number of CTCs, the researchers said.

The prostate cancer patients were recruited with the help of a clinical team led by physicians Dr. Matthew Rettig, of the UCLA Department of Urology, and Dr. Jiaoti Huang, of the UCLA Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine.

The new CTC enrichment technology is based on the research team's earlier deve
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Contact: Jennifer Marcus
jmarcus@cnsi.ucla.edu
310-267-4839
University of California - Los Angeles
Source:Eurekalert

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