Multi-layer assembly of cellulose nanofibrils in a microfluidic device for the selective capture and release of viable tumor cells from whole blood†
According to reports by the World Health Organization (WHO), cancer-related deaths reached almost 10 million in 2018. Nearly 65% of these deaths occurred in low- to middle-income countries, a trend that is bound to increase since cancer diagnostics are not currently considered a priority in resource-limited settings (RLS). Thus, cost-effective and specific cancer screening and diagnostics tools are in high demand, particularly in RLS. The selective isolation and up-concentration of rare cells while maintaining cell viability and preventing phenotypic changes is a powerful tool to allow accurate and sensitive downstream analysis. Here, multi-layer cellulose nanofibril-based coatings functionalized with anti-EpCAM antibodies on the surface of disposable microfluidic devices were optimized for specific capture of target cells, followed by efficient release without significant adverse effects. HCT 116 colon cancer cells were captured in a single step with >97% efficiency at 41.25 μL min−1 and, when spiked in whole blood, an average enrichment factor of ∼200-fold relative to white blood cells was achieved. The release of cells was performed by enzymatic digestion of the cellulose nanofibrils which had a negligible impact on cell viability. In particular, >80% of the cells were recovered with at least 97% viability in less than 30 min. Such performance paves the way to expand and improve clinical diagnostic applications by simplifying the isolation of circulating tumor cells (CTCs) and other rare cells directly from whole blood.
- This article is part of the themed collection: Recent Open Access Articles