Microchip Device Lets Researchers Monitor Rare Cancer Cells

04.01.10 | FL News Team

New technology is changing the way doctors look at rare cancer cells. Circulating tumor cells, or CTCs, are like microscopic cancer seeds that are released into the bloodstream by tumor cells. Normally these tiny cells are difficult to detect, but a new and improved microchip device is changing all that. Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School drew blood from 55 cancer patients for an early pilot test. Using the device, they were able to capture thousands of images of the CTCs in each patient's blood, count them, and monitor any changes in the cells before and after surgery. The Boston team says the microchip device could eventually help doctors monitor how a cancer treatment is working or even spot dangerous CTCs before they have a chance to metastasize. The study is published in the journal "Science Translational Medicine."