Microwave based cancer cell screening with no marker
The aging of the population associated with the increase demand of higher quality of life at old age has set a significant demand for higher quality medical care with faster, more accurate and minimal invasive assays. The advancements in the early detection of specific medical conditions are further required to understand or early prevent diseases. Most of the assays used blood, urine, saliva and tissue cells to detect and screen important clues related with patient medical condition. The outcome of these assays was reflected in the medical data which further emerged in better treatments and more effective drugs. Most of the present assays require high qualified personnel to prepare, analyze and perform the interpretation of the results as well as sophisticated and expensive equipment and long period of analysis time. The emergence of new technologies such as MEMS (Micro Electro Mechanical Systems) with microfluidics and Lab-on-a-chip (LOC) concept, bring new type of available tools with the possibility to perform efficient fast tests and assays with very little help of the human operator and at relatively low associated costs. The ultimate aim is to reproduce the same laboratory biological assays with miniaturized Bio MEMS devices to acceptable specific and sensitive results. For the last decade, several researchers investigated and used different cell detection techniques such as optical cytometry, impedance spectroscopy and electromagnetic spectroscopy with cancer cell attached to markers. The amount of literature on Circulating Tumor Cells (CTC) has exponentially grown over past ten years. As the possibility to separate and count CTC after cancer therapy was approved by FDA in 2005 for Veridex of Johnson and Johnson, the idea of “catching” the cells by bonding magnetic ferrofluid on the markers specific to three types of cancer. These commercially available kits are made to find and count CTC of epithelial origin from breast, colon and prostate cancers after therapy (chemotherapy). The method is based on bounding magnetic micro particles to specific over-expressed proteins (markers) in cancer cells in whole blood and counting them after attracted by magnetic field - The CellSearch®. Although the desire to identify other type of cells is extremely high, the presently used method is limited to detection of cancer cells of known origin. Finding cancer cells of unknown origin based on the bio-chemical reaction between proteins requires an omni-binding protein which at the present time is unknown.
At the present time there are more than 30 research groups that direct their interest towards cancer cell separation. The technologies used by the research groups are either filtering based on size or magnetic marking and separation in magnetic field. The technologies targeted by the research groups are mainly focusing on specific CTC separation, detection or counting. According to the last 10 years information acquisitions, the interest in cancer research is expanded towards cancer detection through single cell analysis. Any of such technologies would require an accurate cell separation system and an integrated system would be preferred when automation of detection is intended.
The proposed enabling technology research represents one of the potential key in any future single cell analysis devices based on microwave screening. Both modeling and experimental work carried out so far point towards the possibility to enhance the efficiency of the method through 3 dimensional configurations of electrodes in a microfluidic channel. The ultimate objective of this research is to develop a miniaturized system to screen cancer cells from the blood taken from the patient without the use of marker.
This research is based on the characterization of different cancer cell’s dielectric properties at low and high frequencies for cell separation from blood by Dielectrophoresis (DEP) and microwave cell screening without the use of markers. The cell screening to count, to differentiate different type of cancer cell and to identify the signature of each single cell or CTC uses microwave measurements on single CTC with no marker.