Determination of HER2 status in breast cancer patients is considered standard practice for therapy selection. However, tumor biopsy in patients with recurrent and/or metastatic disease is not always feasible. Thus, circulating tumor cells (CTCs) are an alternative source of tumor cells for analysis of HER2. An antibody cocktail for recovery of variable, high- and low-, EpCAM-expressing tumor cells was developed based on FACS evaluation and then verified by CTC enumeration (based on CK and CD45 staining) with comparison to EpCAM-only and with CellSearch® (n=19). HER2 fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) on all (CK+ and CK-) captured cells was compared to HER2 status on the primary tumors (n=54) of patients with late stage metastatic/recurrent breast cancer. Capture of low EpCAM-expressing tumor cells increased from 27% to 76% when using the cocktail versus EpCAM alone, respectively. Overall, CTC detection with the OncoCEE™ platform was better compared to CellSearch® (68% vs. 89%, respectively), and a 93% concordance in HER2 status was observed. HER2 FISH analysis of CK+ and CK- CTCs is feasible using the CEE™ platform. Although larger clinical studies are warranted, the results demonstrate adequate sensitivity and specificity as needed for incorporation into laboratory testing.
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