Materials and microfluidics: enabling the efficient isolation and analysis of circulating tumour cells
We present a critical review of microfluidic technologies and material effects on the analyses of circulating tumour cells (CTCs) selected from the peripheral blood of cancer patients. CTCs are a minimally invasive source of clinical information that can be used to prognose patient outcome, monitor minimal residual disease, assess tumour resistance to therapeutic agents, and potentially screen individuals for the early diagnosis of cancer. The performance of CTC isolation technologies depends on microfluidic architectures, the underlying principles of isolation, and the choice of materials. We present a critical review of the fundamental principles used in these technologies and discuss their performance. We also give context to how CTC isolation technologies enable downstream analysis of selected CTCs in terms of detecting genetic mutations and gene expression that could be used to gain information that may affect patient outcome.