With early detection of cancer being a key determinant of an effective management of the disease, the detection of rare blood biomarkers occupies a central position. Circulating tumor cells evade detection as they are too few in a standard clinical sample and retrieval of the nucleic acids characterizing these cells prove even more challenging. In what could pave way for tailored therapies for cancer, a recent study by a multidisciplinary team of researchers laid bare some interesting findings.
Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine in a proof-of-concept experiment found that in porcine models, an intravascular magnetic wire is effective in in-vivo retrieving of hard-to-detect tumor cells circulating in the blood of the subject. They demonstrated that drawing just 5-ml blood from the subject proved sufficient for the metal wire to detect cancerous cells which was only possible in analyzing 80 tubes of blood sample through conventional methods. They also showed that the efficiency of the detection was way higher than other circulating tumor cell (CTC) devices.
Nanoparticles key to Retrieval of Tumor Cells
The study was funded by the Ben and Catherine Ivy Foundation, National Institutes of Health, and a non-profit organization. The findings are published online on July 16, 2018 in the journal Nature Biomedical Engineering.
The researchers used nanotechnology to make the tumor cells in the bloodstream attract to the magnetic wire that was inserted into a porcine ear vein using a standard intravenous catheter. They magnetized the CTC through an antibody contained in nanoparticles that got latched to the CTC. By the force of magnetism, the tumor cell-magnet complex got stuck to the flexible wire and was retrieved for tumor analysis.
Researchers foresee Immense Potential of Therapy in Therapeutics and Diagnostics
The authors of the study expect the magnetic wire to have wide-ranging applications, apart from early cancer detection. The technique could prove useful to shed light on the progress of a cancer treatment and obtain information about CTC in hard-to-biopsy places. And, who knows in the coming years the wire could emerge as a potential treatment by itself for cancer treatment. However, the therapy still isn’t ready for cancer treatment in humans pending approval by FDA. The researchers are looking for already approved nanoparticles to take the work ahead.