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Image of the Week: Device captures cancer cells from blood samples

Researchers at MIT and Brigham and Women’s Hospital have developed a new device that captures and isolates cancer cells from blood samples for analysis and that could lead to improved methods of patient monitoring. A recent MIT release describes the technology:

Inspired by the tentacles of a jellyfish, the team coated a microfluidic channel with long strands of DNA that grab specific proteins found on the surfaces of leukemia cells as they flow by. Using this strategy, the researchers achieved flow rates 10 times higher than existing devices — fast enough to make the systems practical for clinical use.

Using this technology... doctors could monitor cancer patients to determine whether their treatment is working.

“If you had a rapid test that could tell you whether there are more or less of these cells over time, that would help to monitor the progression of therapy and progression of the disease,” says Jeff Karp, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and co-director of the Center for Regenerative Therapeutics at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

The above image illustrates how cells traveling through a microfluidic device can be trapped by strands of DNA, which are shown in green.

Previously: Researchers use ultrafast microscopic camera to detect cancer cells in the bloodstream
Photo by Suman Bose and Chong Shen, MIT

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