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Vortex Biosciences Announces Publication in Nature Communications Describing the First Single Cell Western Blot for Circulating Tumor Cells

Vortex Biosciences, provider of circulating tumor cell (CTC) capture systems, today announced the publication of “Profiling protein expression in circulating tumor cells using microfluidic western blotting” in Nature Communications on March 23rd. The peer reviewed publication describes the use of the Vortex technology to capture CTCs and a microfluidic single-CTC resolution Western blot from Dr. Amy Herr’s team at the University of California, Berkeley to measure an 8-plex panel of cell surface and intracellular signaling proteins. Research conducted for this publication by Dr. Herr’s lab, in collaboration with Dr. Stefanie Jeffrey's lab at Stanford University, was funded by the National Institute of Health (NIH). Targeted proteomics with single-CTC resolution offers a unique analytical approach to understanding CTC biology.

CTC protein analyses primarily focus on surface and secreted proteins. While both proteomic factors are important, the capability to multiplex and assay a wide-range of protein targets (including intracellular signaling pathways) has been limited. In this paper, CTCs were first enriched using the Vortex system prior to introduction into a microfluidic single-CTC Western blot. The microfluidic design minimizes protein dilution and losses during targeted proteomics of single-CTCs for surface markers (EpCAM, CD45), oncoproteins (ER), oncogene signaling (ERK, eIF4E), cytokeratin (panCK), and housekeeping proteins (GAPDH, ß-Tubulin).

"We continue to work with great partners like Dr. Amy Herr at the University of California, Berkeley and Dr. Stefanie Jeffrey at Stanford University to try to find new ways to interrogate cancer biology,“ said Gene Walther, Chief Executive Officer of Vortex Biosciences. "Combining the high CTC recovery of the next generation Vortex technology with a single cell proteomics analytical platform provides a cutting edge approach for expanding our understanding of cancer biology."

The Vortex system utilizes a proprietary microfluidic chip to stably trap and capture CTCs in micro-scale vortices based on their larger size and greater deformability than the white and red blood cells. This unique approach to CTC isolation does not damage the proteins and results in CTCs that are high in purity making the Western blot assay workflow simple. Furthermore, CTCs are captured and collected unbiased by their molecular characteristics. Using this new approach, ER+ breast cancer patient-derived CTC analysis by Western blot reveals lower EpCAM and ER protein expression level variation than observed in an ER+ cell line. In the patient samples interrogated in this paper, both EpCAM-positive and EpCAM-negative CTCs were identified in a single patient sample. This new CTC single cell Western blot method established a capacity for retrospective, multiplexed CTC protein analyses.

The fully automated VTX-1 Liquid Biopsy System from Vortex represents the next step in CTC isolation. With a cancer cell recovery of 65-75%, best in class CTC purity, and collected CTCs being intact, viable, and ready for downstream analysis, the VTX-1 offers the best CTC samples available today.

About Vortex Biosciences
Vortex Biosciences is a cancer research and diagnostics company that integrates cancer biology, microfluidic engineering and informatics to develop tools for isolating and characterizing circulating tumor cells. The Vortex VTX-1 instrument harvests intact circulating tumor cells from whole blood samples for use in downstream research and clinical applications such as patient stratification in clinical trials, monitoring disease progression and drug treatment effectiveness. With a mission to enable noninvasive diagnosis of cancer and real-time monitoring throughout a patient’s treatment, Vortex is at the forefront of accelerating cancer research and improving patient outcomes. Vortex is a core subsidiary of NetScientific plc, a transatlantic healthcare technology group with an investment strategy focused on sourcing, funding and commercializing technologies that significantly improve the health and well-being of people with chronic diseases. For more information, visit

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