Aptamers and Antibodies that Isolate Circulating Tumor Cells with Better Detection Sensitivity

Technology #14923

Multivalent binding Captures Tumor Cells for Diagnosis, Prognosis, and Treatment Monitoring

This microfluidic device combines multivalent nanoparticles, DNA aptamers and/or antibodies for specific, efficient, and fast isolation of cancer cells and pathogens in whole blood and other fluids. The global cancer diagnostics market is expected to grow to $10.6 billion by 2019. Since cancer affects more than 14 million people worldwide, the demand for noninvasive diagnostics that can detect cancers earlier, monitor cancer recurrence, and guide therapy decisions is increasing. Circulating tumor cells are cells that escape from tumors and enter the blood stream. These cells travel through the blood and are responsible for tumor growth in other areas of the body. As such, circulating tumor cells hold important information for cancer diagnosis and disease monitoring. However, obtaining information on these cells is difficult since they are rare in blood, making their isolation and characterization challenging. Available cancer diagnostic technologies are inefficient because they do not target circulating tumor cells with sensitivity, specificity and speed. Researchers at the University of Florida have developed microfluidic devices integrated with multivalent binding isolation mechanisms, which capture circulating tumor cells from cancer patients’ blood samples and assist in disease prognosis. These microfluidic devices with multivalent binding are ideal for monitoring therapeutic treatment response promptly and predicting cancer relapse. The binding chemistry could also be useful in exploring the release and culture of captured circulating tumor cells, as well as in carrying out genomic, proteomic, and other follow-up studies on these tumor cells.


Microfluidic devices combined with aptamers and antibodies to isolate target cells in an efficient, specific, fast, and high throughput manner


  • Uses gold nanoparticles, allowing aptamers to achieve high-efficiency cell capture
  • Combines microfluidic devices with aptamers and antibodies, increasing the sensitivity and specificity of cell capture
  • Utilizes multivalent binding, enhancing cell capture efficiency and achieving high-affinity molecular recognition


The ensemble of multivalent nanoparticles, DNA aptamers and/or antibodies isolate circulating tumor cells by attaching themselves to biomolecules present on the surface of target cells. The multivalent binding can take place at a high flow rate in a microfluidic device, which leads to high capture efficiency and a better cell capture specificity than either aptamers or antibodies alone with monovalent binding. One application of the platform is to isolate and detect circulating tumor cells for cancer diagnosis, prognosis, therapeutic treatment monitoring, and drug development.