Nanoscale Velcro-like device- To Capture And Release Tumour Cells at Low Temperature

A new-generation nano-platform capable of capturing circulating tumor cells and releasing them at reduced temperature.


This new nanotechnology device could be used for cancer diagnosis and give insight into the mechanisms of how cancer spreads throughout the body. The device provides a convenient and non-invasive alternative to biopsy, the current method for diagnosis of metastatic cancer.

It could enable doctors to detect tumor cells that circulate in cancer patients’ blood well before they subsequently colonize as tumors in other organs. The device also enables researchers to keep the tumor cells alive and subsequently study them.

The device was developed by a team led by Hsiao-hua Yu from the RIKEN Advanced Science Institute in Japan and Hsian-Rong Tseng from the Department of Molecular and Medical Pharmacology at the University of California Los Angeles, in research published online today in the journal Advanced Materials.

This technology is unique in that it is capable of catching the tumor cells with great efficiency and releasing them with great cell viability. Blood is passed through the device like a filter that contains a molecule capable of adhering to tumor cells like Velcro and separating them with efficiency ranging from 40% to 70%. The cancer cells are retained by tiny temperature-responsive polymer brushes inside the device. At 37 degrees Celsius, these polymer brushes stick to the tumor cells, but when cooled to 4 degrees Celsius, they release them, allowing scientists to examine the cells.

“Until now, most devices have demonstrated the ability to capture circulating tumor cells with high-efficiency. However, it is equally important to release these captured cells, to preserve and study them in order to obtain insightful information about them.

SNP’s Role in Cancer

Genome-wide studies have identified certain single-nucleutide polymorphisms (SNPs), mutations at specific points in the DNA, that increase a person’s risk of developing cancer. Yet, research so far has shown that most SNPs likely only have a modest effect on risk. In the 7 December issue, Sur et al. used a mouse model to look at the functional impact of a particular SNP linked with cancer risk. Mice with this mutation developed intestinal tumors, and when the mutation was deleted, mice displayed fewer tumors. This study suggests that this specific SNP may play a causal role in human cancer.