Circulating tumor cell technologies

Mol Oncol. 2016 Mar;10(3):374-94. doi: 10.1016/j.molonc.2016.01.007. Epub 2016 Jan 28.


Circulating tumor cells, a component of the "liquid biopsy", hold great potential to transform the current landscape of cancer therapy. A key challenge to unlocking the clinical utility of CTCs lies in the ability to detect and isolate these rare cells using methods amenable to downstream characterization and other applications. In this review, we will provide an overview of current technologies used to detect and capture CTCs with brief insights into the workings of individual technologies. We focus on the strategies employed by different platforms and discuss the advantages of each. As our understanding of CTC biology matures, CTC technologies will need to evolve, and we discuss some of the present challenges facing the field in light of recent data encompassing epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition, tumor-initiating cells, and CTC clusters.

Keywords: Antigen-independent enrichment; CTC capture; CTC clusters; Cancer; Immunoaffinity enrichment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Separation / instrumentation
  • Cell Separation / methods*
  • Centrifugation / instrumentation
  • Centrifugation / methods
  • Electrophoresis / instrumentation
  • Electrophoresis / methods
  • Filtration / instrumentation
  • Filtration / methods
  • Humans
  • Lab-On-A-Chip Devices
  • Neoplasms / blood
  • Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Neoplastic Cells, Circulating / pathology*