new microscopic device that sorts out tumors according
to specific proteins on the surfaces of malignant
tumor cells may help researchers characterize cancer
cells to better understand tumor behavior and ensure
more accurate patient treatment, says an oncology
researcher at the University of Medicine and Dentistry
of New Jersey who developed the device.
Dr. Robert Wieder, a physician/scientist at the
UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School in Newark and a team
of researchers, developed their device to identify
different types of cells for their ability to transiently
bind to targeting molecules attached to the walls
of a device called a microfluidic channel. The channel
identifies different types of cells based on their
ability to temporarily bind with target molecules
on its walls.
"This technology does not require any special preparation
of the cells and will be ideal for characterizing
tumor cells even if only a few are available," Dr.
Wieder said. His research is published in the June
issue of the journal Clinical Chemistry.
The device was created to slow the movement of cells
in the flow channel. Researchers may now be able
to characterize the multiple cell types in a tumor
that cannot currently be characterized by researchers,
meaning cancer researchers will be able to better
understand the heterogeneity that develops in a tumor
and provide important diagnostic information that
may result in improved design of treatment for patients.
In testing their hypothesis, the researchers treated
glass microfluidic channels in such a way that enable
molecular targets, or ligands, to bind tightly to
the glass surface, even when exposed to fluids. In
the reported experiments in the journal article,
Dr. Wieder and his colleagues used a specific antibody
to a cell-surface protein found on the outer membrane
of certain types of breast cancer cells, as the targeting
Using cultured breast cancer cells, the investigators
showed that those cells expressing specific surface
proteins, called integrins, moved more slowly through
the microfluidic channels to these integrins than
did cells moving through channels coated with non-specific
proteins. Movements of cells past these two areas
of the channel were tracked using a video camera
and video tracking software that can account for
hundreds of individual cells as they move through
the various regions of the microfluidic device.
Using this detection system, Dr. Wieder and his
associates were able to eliminate the typical experimental
step of tagging or labeling the cells with an optical
marker, such as a fluorescent molecule, simplifying
the overall procedure significantly.
The researchers noted that the design of their device
should allow them to separate and characterize multiple
cell populations by using more than one targeting
ligand in a single device. The investigators believe
that their device also will work with cells isolated
directly from patient tissue samples with little,
if any, preparation other than separating a mass
of cells, such as those taken from a tumor or other
tissue sample, into its individual cells.
Contact: Tom Capezzuto