Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Caught Red-handed
14 January 2017

Caught Red-handed

Imagine if one blood test could help a doctor see whether cancerous cells are spreading to other organs in their patient’s body? Now, a device has been developed by engineers that could do just that: by trapping potentially metastatic cancer cells, it can help identify cells before they invade other organs. The device, a sort of lab-on-a-chip, is made up of a 76-element array (pictured left). Each element has a well, and at the bottom of each well are specific antibodies that attach to unique proteins on a cancer cell’s surface. Blood droplets from a patient’s sample are placed into the wells (right), and if cancerous cells are present, an electrical signal is created, signalling to researchers that these cells should be investigated further. This device could be used to detect a wide-range of cancer types, helping to increase a patient’s survival.

Written by Katie Panteli

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