- Circulating tumor cells are a source of cancer metastasis
- Methods target biomarker seprase, a transmembrane protease overexpressed in metastasizing cancers
- Device captures seprase-positive cells and further analyzes them for diverse biomarkers that indicate metastatic potential
Tumor cells circulating in the blood or “circulating tumor cells” (CTC) contribute to cancer metastasis, the cause of most cancer-related deaths. Currently, CTCs are detected from blood samples by using an antibody against the epithelial cell adhesion molecule (EpCAM). However, invasive tumors can contain CTCs with diverse subpopulations and which express little or no EpCAM. There is a clinical need to effectively detect and analyze CTCs to identify their subpopulations and choose proper treatment. A system combining novel detection methods for seprase, a protease that enhances tumor growth and proliferation and is overexpressed on the surface of >90% of human epithelial cancers, with an innovative microfluidic device has been invented by researchers at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
The microfluidic device 1) uses novel methods to capture seprase-expressing CTCs from a patient sample and 2) then passes the sample through additional modules for further analysis. Additional modules can include detectors of other biomarkers (including EpCAM), imaging systems to observe cell phenotype or cell counters. The detection method is sensitive enough to isolate CTCs with low expression of surface antigens. The ratio between seprase and other biomarkers in patient blood/tumor samples can be used to discern the presence and metastatic potential of various solid tumors and adenocarcinomas. This detection system has been validated on blood samples from pancreatic cancer patients whose cancer was first diagnosed as localized but was identified by this invention—and confirmed with subsequent surgery—to have metastasized. This detection system is fast, flexible, and ready to be developed for clinical purposes.
This technology is available for nonexclusive licensing only.
Number:US 9,952,212 & US 9,250,242
Name : Jackie Quay