New Dx chip allows for liquid diagnosis of prostate cancer advance

We have a global research effort to tell you about that produced something potentially novel in prostate cancer diagnostics. Their new tool is called the NanoVelcro Chip, and initial studies showed it had promise in both identifying and then grabbing circulating tumor cells from the blood that broke away from tumors.

And talk about a joint effort. Scientists from the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and the University of California, Los Angeles, led the effort. But they also worked with scientists from multiple institutions in China, among others. Details are published online in the journal Advanced Materials.

Why does the NanoVelcro Chip matter? It essentially redefines what a biopsy is. Rather than taking a biopsy from a piece of tissue, it comes directly from blood. The research team dubbed it a "liquid biopsy." First, doctors pump the patient's blood through the chip, and cancer cell microvilli stick to the nanofiber structures on the device surface. Next, doctors use laser capture microdissection to pick and slice out CTCs, free of white blood cell contamination. Then the end CTC samples are subjected to whole exome sequencing, so doctors can spot cell genetic mutations and clearly decipher the patient's cancer makeup.

Circulating tumor cells that break off from tumors enable cancer to metastasize, or spread. And while CTC tests have been in place for almost a decade, their effectiveness at capturing enough for proper analysis remains limited, the researchers argue, doing little more than just count CTC levels rather than analyze their detailed makeup. The hope is that this detailed process will let doctors clearly identify how far a tumor has advanced, allowing them to plan a personalized treatment to best address the prostate cancer at its given stage.

More research is likely, and we'll be watching to see if and when the NanoVelcro Chip is licensed to a larger company or used as the basis for a new startup.

- read the release
- here's the journal abstract