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Published August 15, 2010 | public
Journal Article

A Cancer Detection Platform Which Measures Telomerase Activity from Live Circulating Tumor Cells Captured on a Microfilter


Circulating tumor cells (CTC) quantified in cancer patients' blood can predict disease outcome and response to therapy. However, the CTC analysis platforms commonly used cannot capture live CTCs and only apply to tumors of epithelial origin. To address these limitations, we have developed a novel cancer detection platform which measures telomerase activity from live CTCs captured on a parylene-C slot microfilter. Using a constant low-pressure delivery system, the new microfilter platform was capable of cell capture from 1 mL of whole blood in less than 5 minutes, achieving 90% capture efficiency, 90% cell viability, and 200-fold sample enrichment. Importantly, the captured cells retained normal morphology by scanning electron microscopy and could be readily manipulated, further analyzed, or expanded on- or off-filter. Telomerase activity—a well-recognized universal cancer marker—was reliably detected by quantitative PCR from as few as 25 cancer cells added into 7.5 mL of whole blood and captured on the microfilter. Moreover, significant telomerase activity elevation was also measured from patients' blood samples and from single cancer cells lifted off of the microfilter. Live CTC capture and analysis is fast and simple yet highly quantitative, versatile, and applicable to nearly all solid tumor types, making this a highly promising new strategy for cancer detection and characterization.

Additional Information

© 2010 American Association for Cancer Research. Received 02/25/2010; revised 05/26/2010; accepted 06/21/2010; published OnlineFirst 07/27/2010. The authors thank Dr. David I. Quinn for his critical review of this manuscript and his ongoing support of these studies. Funded in part by NCI K08 CA126983-01 (AG). The costs of publication of this article were defrayed in part by the payment of page charges. This article must therefore be hereby marked advertisement in accordance with 18 U.S.C. Section 1734 solely to indicate this fact.

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