The RareCyte® platform for next-generation analysis of circulating tumor cells

Cytometry A. 2018 Dec;93(12):1220-1225. doi: 10.1002/cyto.a.23619. Epub 2018 Oct 2.


Circulating tumor cells (CTCs) can reliably be identified in cancer patients and are associated with clinical outcome. Next-generation "liquid biopsy" technologies will expand CTC diagnostic investigation to include phenotypic characterization and single-cell molecular analysis. We describe here a rare cell analysis platform designed to comprehensively collect and identify CTCs, enable multi-parameter assessment of individual CTCs, and retrieve single cells for molecular analysis. The platform has the following four integrated components: 1) density-based separation of the CTC-containing blood fraction and sample deposition onto microscope slides; 2) automated multiparameter fluorescence staining; 3) image scanning, analysis, and review; and 4) mechanical CTC retrieval. The open platform utilizes six fluorescence channels, of which four channels are used to identify CTC and two channels are available for investigational biomarkers; a prototype assay that allows three investigational biomarker channels has been developed. Single-cell retrieval from fixed slides is compatible with whole genome amplification methods for genomic analysis. © 2018 The Authors. Cytometry Part A published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. on behalf of International Society for Advancement of Cytometry.

Keywords: DNA amplification techniques; cell separation; circulating tumor cells; computer assisted; image processing; immunofluorescence microscopy; liquid biopsy; molecular imaging; single-cell analysis.

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers, Tumor / genetics
  • Cell Count / methods
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Separation / methods
  • Fluorescence
  • Humans
  • Liquid Biopsy / methods
  • Neoplasms / genetics
  • Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Neoplastic Cells, Circulating / pathology*
  • Single-Cell Analysis / methods


  • Biomarkers, Tumor