The systematic study of circulating tumor cell isolation using lithographic microfilters

RSC Adv. 2014;9:4334-4342. doi: 10.1039/C3RA46839A.


Circulating tumor cells (CTCs) disseminated into peripheral blood from a primary, or metastatic, tumor can be used for early detection, diagnosis and monitoring of solid malignancies. CTC isolation by size exclusion techniques have long interested researchers as a simple broad based approach, which is methodologically diverse for use in both genomic and protein detection platforms. Though a variety of these microfiltration systems are employed academically and commercially, the limited ability to easily alter microfilter designs has hindered the optimization for CTC capture. To overcome this problem, we studied a unique photo-definable material with a scalable and mass producible photolithographic fabrication method. We use this fabrication method to systematically study and optimize the parameters necessary for CTC isolation using a microfiltration approach, followed by a comparison to a "standard" filtration membrane. We demonstrate that properly designed microfilters can capture MCF-7 cancer cells at rate of 98 ± 2% if they consist of uniform patterned distributions, ≥160 000 pores, and 7 μm pore diameters.