New Approach to Detecting Circulating Tumor Cells in Blood Uses Acoustic Sound Waves and Researchers Are Hopeful that the Technology Can Lead to a Medical Laboratory Test

Innovative device uses acoustic sound waves to gently separate circulating cancer cells from white blood cells

In many respects, the ability to separate and identify circulating tumor cells (CTCs) is one of the holy grails of cancer diagnostics. It is widely believed that a clinical laboratory test that can effectively identify CTCs would contribute to earlier detection of cancer and improved outcomes for caner patients.

Pathologists will be interested to learn about a useful new tool that can flag circulating tumor cells. Researchers say that this approach enables them to determine if a cancerous tumor is going to spread, without tagging tumor cells with harsh chemicals. This gentler alternative to current diagnostic methods involves an innovative device that uses “tilted” sound waves to sort tumor cells from white blood cells, noted a report in Headlines & Global News.

This device is about the size of a cell phone. It was developed by a team of scientists from the Pennsylvania State University (PSU), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Carnegie Mellon University (CMU).

Their research was funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF). The research study was published by PNAS, the journal of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, January 5, 2015. (more…)