A microfluidic chip captures elusive circulating tumor cells from blood—and can support the cells’ growth for further analysis.
The device, believed to be the first to pair these functions, uses the advanced electronics material graphene oxide. In clinics, such a device could one day help doctors diagnose cancers, give more accurate prognoses, and test treatment options on cultured cells without subjecting patients to traditional biopsies.
To test the device, researchers ran one-milliliter samples of blood through the chip’s thin chamber. Even when they had added just 3-5 cancer cells to the 5-10 billion blood cells, the chip was able to capture all of the cells in the sample half the time, with an average of 73 percent over 10 trials.