Circulating tumor cell detection using a parallel flow micro-aperture chip system†
We report on-chip isolation and detection of circulating tumor cells (CTCs) from blood samples using a system that integrates a microchip with immunomagnetics, high-throughput fluidics and size-based filtration. CTCs in a sample are targeted via their surface antigens using magnetic beads functionalized with antibodies. The mixture is then run through a fluidic chamber that contains a micro-fabricated chip with arrays of 8 μm diameter apertures. The fluid runs parallel to the microchip while a magnetic field is generated underneath to draw the beads and cells bound to them toward the chip surface for detection of CTCs that are larger than the apertures and clear out free beads and other smaller particles bound to them. The parallel flow configuration allows high volumetric flow rates, which reduces nonspecific binding to the chip surface and enables multiple circulations of the sample fluid through the system in a short period of time. In this study we first present models of the magnetic and fluidic forces in the system using a finite element method. We then verify the simulation results experimentally to determine an optimal flow rate. Next, we characterize the system by detecting cancer cell lines spiked into healthy human blood and show that on average 89% of the spiked MCF-7 breast cancer cells were detected. We finally demonstrate detection of CTCs in 49 out of 50 blood samples obtained from non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients and pancreatic cancer (PANC) patients. The number of CTCs detected ranges from 2 to 122 per 8 mL s of blood. We also demonstrate a statistically significant difference between the CTC counts of NSCLC patients who have received therapy and those who have not.