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New device detects cancer cells in circulating blood


Photo credit – Dr Majid Warkiani

CANCER DIGEST – March 5, 2022 – Australian researchers at the University of Technology Sydney have developed a device capable of detecting cancer cells circulating in blood. The researchers say detecting and analyzing cancer cells from blood samples would enable doctors to avoid invasive biopsies, and allow monitoring of treatment progress.


Called the Static Droplet Microfluidic device, it is able to rapidly detect circulating tumor cells that have broken away from a primary tumor using a metabolic feature specific to cancer cells. The study showing the device’s effectiveness was published in March 1 journal Biosensors and Bioelectronics.


Once the cancer cells are identified and isolated by the device they can be analyzed for genetic and molecular characteristics that can help clinicians monitor treatment progress and tailor treatment to more effectively target the cancer.


“Managing cancer through the assessment of tumor cells in blood samples is far less invasive than taking tissue biopsies," Professor Majid Warkiani, senior author of the study said in a press release. "It allows doctors to do repeat tests and monitor a patient’s response to treatment.”


Tumor cells circulating in the blood are also precursors of metastasis, or the spread of the cancer to other tissues in the body. Studying these migrating cells might also aid in preventing or slowing that spread.


The new device can be easily integrated into research and clinical labs without relying on high-end equipment and specially-trained technicians, allowing clinicians to diagnose and monitor cancer patients in a practical and cost-effective manner.


The research team has applied for patents and will be seeking to commercialized the device in the near future.


Sources: University of Technology Sydney press release and Biosensors and Bioelectronics.

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