Enrichment and single-cell analysis of circulating tumor cells
Up to 90% of cancer-related deaths are caused by metastatic cancer. Circulating tumor cells (CTCs), a type of cancer cell that spreads through the blood after detaching from a solid tumor, are essential for the establishment of distant metastasis for a given cancer. As a new type of liquid biopsy, analysis of CTCs offers the possibility to avoid invasive tissue biopsy procedures with practical implications for diagnostics. The fundamental challenges of analyzing and profiling CTCs are the extremely low abundances of CTCs in the blood and the intrinsic heterogeneity of CTCs. Various technologies have been proposed for the enrichment and single-cell analysis of CTCs. This review aims to provide in-depth insights into CTC analysis, including various techniques for isolation of CTCs with capture methods based on physical and biochemical principles, and single-cell analysis of CTCs at the genomic, proteomic and phenotypic level, as well as current developmental trends and promising research directions.