Development of an automated and sensitive microfluidic device for capturing and characterizing circulating tumor cells (CTCs) from clinical blood samples
Abstract. Current analysis of circulating tumor cells (CTCs) is hindered by sub-optimal sensitivity and specificity of devices or assays as well as lack of capability of characterization of CTCs with clinical biomarkers. Here, we validate a novel technology to enrich and characterize CTCs from blood samples of patients with metastatic breast, prostate and colorectal cancers using a microfluidic chip which is processed by using an automated staining and scanning system from sample preparation to image processing. The Celsee system allowed for the detection of CTCs with apparent high sensitivity and specificity (94% sensitivity and 100% specificity). Moreover, the system facilitated rapid capture of CTCs from blood samples and also allowed for downstream characterization of the captured cells by immunohistochemistry, DNA and mRNA fluorescence in-situ hybridization (FISH). In a subset of patients with prostate cancer we compared the technology with a FDA-approved CTC device, CellSearch and found a higher degree of sensitivity with the Celsee instrument. In conclusion, the integrated Celsee system represents a promising CTC technology for enumeration and molecular characterization.