Image: The device employs two systems in miniature: a flow system and an optical system. The ratio of the two systems provides a quantitative indication about how the cancer is progressing (Photo courtesy of the Universitat Rovira i Virgili).
Researchers have developed a portable device that rapidly detects and counts circulating tumor cells (CTCs) in blood samples. It can help provide early diagnosis and help assess a patient’s level of health with convenient, inexpensive, effective testing for monitoring patients with cancer.
These patients need to be constantly monitored during treatment to assess disease progression, particularly if their cancer has metastasized. Monitoring is currently done using imaging techniques and biopsies, which are invasive and not always possible. In contrast, the new device is highly sensitive and requires no surgery or treatment involving radiation, thus improving patient quality of life.
The device was developed by a team of researchers and clinicians led by Universitat Rovira i Virgili (Tarragona, Catalonia, Spain) professors Francesc Díaz, Ramon Álvarez Puebla, and Jaume Masons and by HM Torrelodones University Hospital’s Dr. Eduardo García–Rico. It counts the number of tumor cells in a blood sample in real time, and has been successfully tested on patients in various stages of breast cancer. It can be adapted for use to determine the presence of other tumors by analyzing for different antibodies in the blood sample.
The patented device has been licensed for commercialization to Medcom Science, a company engaged in research and development of technologies for diagnosing and treating cancer.
The study, by Pedrol E et al, was published June 16, 2017, in the journal Scientific Reports.
Universitat Rovira i Virgili