Issue 3, 2017

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.

Graphical abstract: Enrichment and single-cell analysis of circulating tumor cells

Article information

Article type
19 Oct 2016
07 Dec 2016
First published
07 Dec 2016
This article is Open Access

All publication charges for this article have been paid for by the Royal Society of Chemistry
Creative Commons BY license

Chem. Sci., 2017,8, 1736-1751

Enrichment and single-cell analysis of circulating tumor cells

Y. Song, T. Tian, Y. Shi, W. Liu, Y. Zou, T. Khajvand, S. Wang, Z. Zhu and C. Yang, Chem. Sci., 2017, 8, 1736 DOI: 10.1039/C6SC04671A

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