Circulating Tumor Cells (CTCs) are cells that have detached from a
primary tumor and are carried by the bloodstream. Studies have shown
that these individual cancer cells play an important role in the
metastatic spread of cancer. Therefore, detecting CTCs in time can aid
the early detection and monitoring of metastatic disease.
major setback is that the concentration of CTCs inside a blood sample is
rather low. A blood volume of about one milliliter contains only dozens
of CTCs, which makes it harder to detect. By contrast with the presence
of billions of red blood cells and millions of white blood cells in the
same amount of blood.
‘The efficiency of FAST Lab-on-a-Disk in separating blood cells and Circulating Tumor Cells (CTCs) is the highest in the world. This could enable early diagnosis and treatment of metastatic cancer.’
The conventional CTC detection requires complex preprocessing
methods, as well as expensive blood samples. In addition, the method of
using proteins on the surface of CTCs may reduce the accuracy of the
test results. There was also a technique that filters CTCs, but there
was a problem with clogging, which resulted in reduced separation
A new research, published in the journal Analytical Chemistry
, revealed the development of a new technique
that separates circulating tumor cells (CTCs) from whole blood at a
In the study, UNIST Professor Yoon-Kyoung Cho, one of the group
leaders at IBS Research Center for Soft and Living Matter (CSLM),
reported a technique to capture 95% of CTCs in the blood within one
minute using a stand-alone lab-on-a-disc system equipped with Fluid
Assisted Separation Technology (FAST). In this work, inspired by
antifouling membranes with liquid-filled pores in nature, clog-free,
highly sensitive, selective, rapid, and label-free isolation of viable
CTCs from whole blood without prior sample treatment is achieved.
"FAST Lab-on-a-Disk is able to separate cells smoothly and
efficiently by using centrifugal force-based fluid control technology,"
says Minji Lim of Biomedical Engineering, a joint first author of the
paper. She also emphasized that "the efficiency of separating blood
cells and CTC is the highest level in the world".
Using the technique, the researchers performed blood tests of 142
patients with various cancers and 50 healthy people and tested CTC
detection performance. In particular, CTC, which was isolated from the
blood of patients with lung cancer, was able to identify the same
genetic information as in histologic examination. It shows that this
technology can be used for molecular diagnosis or customized medical
"This technology can be directly used by hospitals because it uses
small equipment and is very simple to use," says Professor Cho. "This
will enable early diagnosis of metastatic cancer as well as
patient-tailored cancer treatment."