New device aids tumor diagnosis, prognosis

Nov. 23, 2009 at 12:09 PM
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LOS ANGELES, Nov. 23 (UPI) -- UCLA medical scientists say they have created a silicon chip with nano-sized features that can capture circulating tumor cells in a patient's bloodstream.

The scientists say their device can obtain critical information for examining and diagnosing cancer metastasis, determining patient prognosis, and monitoring the effectiveness of therapies.

Currently, the best method of examining the disease status of tumors is an analysis of metastatic solid biopsy samples, but the UCLA scientists said during the early stages of metastasis, it is often difficult to identify a biopsy site.

But they said by using the new device, physicians can essentially perform a "liquid" biopsy, allowing for early detection and diagnosis, as well as improved treatment monitoring.

The UCLA team said it developed a one-by-two-centimeter silicon chip covered with densely packed nanopillars incubated in a culture medium with breast cancer cells. As a control, they performed a parallel experiment with a cell-capture method that uses a chip with a flat surface.

Both structures were coated with an antibody protein that can help recognize and capture tumor cells. The researchers found the cell-capture yields for the UCLA chip was 45 percent to 65 percent of the cancer cells in the medium, compared with only 4 percent to 14 percent for the flat device.

The study appears in the journal Angewandte Chemie.

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