The Story about Circulating Tumor Cells

At a very early stage of cancer development, prior to the presentation of clinical symptoms, the primary tumor has started shedding individual cancer cells to the blood stream. At that point, the primary tumor is only around 0.5 mm, undetectable by the best PET/CT imaging. However, the cells that break free, called circulating tumor cells (CTCs), can be captured, detected, and monitored in a tube of patient’s peripheral blood.  CTCs travel in the blood, and if there is a chance, they settle down, colonize and form distant metastasis. Therefore, CTCs are believed the seed of metastasis. Examining CTCs can be a perfect way to interrogate the characteristic of an individual’s cancer, monitor the cancer progression and recurrence, and predict the therapeutic efficacy and drug resistance. Growing evidences have demonstrated that the quantity of CTCs in patient blood samples is linked to cancer progression; change in CTC numbers during treatment is predictive of response to therapy. Because the number of CTCs changes weeks to months earlier than the tumor size, timely adjustment to treatment plan is a big advantage by monitoring of CTC levels compared to size imaging. Examining CTCs is also simple by drawing patient’s blood and analyzing it in vitro. Limitation in test prescription seems no longer a concern that always associates with radiological imaging. As you just read, CTCs come from tumors, and thus, with no doubt, they are 100% tumor specific. Additionally, every patient’s tumor is unique, so are the CTCs. Therefore, a CTC test represents the future of individualized care.



About our technology

CTC enrichment is critical for effective detection. Size based enrichment has been one of the most inexpensive enriching techniques with remarkable processing throughput. However, it fails to separate CTCs from leukocytes at similar sizes or retrieve CTCs smaller than the size cutoff. Our filtration technology differentiates cells by both size and deformability. Tumor cells are known to possess larger nucleus/ cytoplasmic ratio and non-homogeneous texture, therefore, CTCs are stiffer, less deformable, and can be effectively separated from normal blood cells by specially designed pores, even at same size. Accordingly, the pore size is significantly reduced that further increase the cell recovery.



About CeloVISION™

Based on the aforementioned concept, we designed a compact, manually operated, disposable, point-of-care device for CTC detection and quantification. The device, which bears a membrane with specially engineered pores, processes whole blood without vigorous manipulation.