New technique identifies cellular 'needle in a haystack'

July 12, 2012

Rare cells can be identified within mixed cell populations with near perfect accuracy using a detection technique devised by research teams led by Robert Wieder, MD, PhD, at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey-New Jersey Medical School and Rajan Kumar, MD, PhD, at Genome Data Systems in Hamilton, N.J. This technique may facilitate cancer diagnosis, which often relies on the detection of rare cancerous cells in tiny amounts of biopsy tissue or fluid.

Wieder’s group previously described this approach, which employs microfluidics, in which cells expressing a specific surface protein are identified as they are pumped through a narrow fluid channel. The channel is coated with a binding partner for the protein of interest, slowing the progress of the cells of interest while allowing non-specific cells to pass through unhindered.

In the new study, published in the Royal Society of Chemistry journal Lab on a Chip, the group optimized the assay to allow the detection of rare breast cancer cells in a mixed population with 100% sensitivity and specificity and without prior manipulation. The process left the cells undamaged, making them available for additional microfluidic, cellular or molecular testing, including analysis of surface proteins known to affect prognosis or response to treatment in patients with cancer, infectious or inflammatory diseases or exposure to toxins.

Explore further: New technique creates cancer stem cells

More information: Lab Chip. 2012 May 7;12(9):1646-55

Related Stories

New technique creates cancer stem cells

April 9, 2008

With a bit of genetic trickery, researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine have turned normal skin cells into cancer stem cells, a step that will make these naturally rare cells easier to study.

Absence of CLP protein can be indicative of oral cancer

January 7, 2009

Human calmodulin-like protein (CLP) is found in many cell types including breast, thyroid, prostate, kidney, and skin. The protein can regulate many cell activities and has a highly specific expression. Gaining an understanding ...

Recommended for you

A new form of real gold, almost as light as air

November 25, 2015

Researchers at ETH Zurich have created a new type of foam made of real gold. It is the lightest form ever produced of the precious metal: a thousand times lighter than its conventional form and yet it is nearly impossible ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.