Rare circulating tumor cells (CTCs) are cancer cells that detached from either a primary tumor or metastatic sites. CTCs circulate into bloodstream and become the origin of metastasis, the spread of cancer to distant organs, which is the primary cause of cancer-induced death. This paper describes our development of a microfluidic chip with unique micropillar geometry for rapid capture of CTCs from whole blood. The microscope-slide-sized microchip contains tens of thousands of isotropically-etched elliptical micropillars, which enhanced the interactions between cells and chip surfaces. The microchip was coated with DNA aptamer, an antibody-like molecule which can specifically bind with their target cells. With optimized channel geometry and flow rate, the microchip yielded a capture efficiency of >95% and a purity of >81% when capturing leukemia cells from a cell mixture. Then, the device was applied to capture colorectal tumor cells from whole blood; as few as 10 tumor cells can be efficiently isolated from 1 mL blood in 28 min. We envision that this high-performance microchip is promising for the detection, enrichment and isolation of rare CTCs, and will open up new opportunities for cancer diagnosis and monitoring cancer treatment.

This content is only available via PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.