A research collaboration between the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University and Children’s Hospital Boston has created a microfluidic device that can harvest rare circulating tumor cells (CTCs) from blood to enable their expansion in culture for analysis.
These cells, which have detached from a primary cancer site and often create a secondary -- or metastasized -- tumor, hold an extraordinary amount of information regarding patient-specific drug sensitivity, cancer progression, and patient response to therapy. Such information could help clinicians treat patients, but it has not been easily accessed due to the difficulty of isolating CTCs and expanding them in culture for subsequent analysis.In alleviating this problem, the new technology has the potential to become a valuable tool for cancer diagnosis and personalized treatment. The research findings appear online in the journal Lab on a Chip.
The Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University (http://wyss.harvard.edu) uses Nature’s design principles to develop bioinspired materials and devices that will transform medicine and create a more sustainable world. Working as an alliance among Harvard’s Schools of Medicine, Engineering, and Arts & Sciences, and in partnership with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Children’s Hospital Boston, Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Massachusetts General Hospital, the University of Massachusetts Medical School, Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, and Boston University, the Institute crosses disciplinary and institutional barriers to engage in high-risk research that leads to transformative technological breakthroughs. By emulating Nature’s principles for self-organizing and self-regulating, Wyss researchers are developing innovative new engineering solutions for healthcare, energy, architecture, robotics, and manufacturing. These technologies are translated into commercial products and therapies through collaborations with clinical investigators, corporate alliances, and new start-ups.
Twig Mowatt | EurekAlert!
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