Antibody-free isolation of rare cancer cells from blood based on 3D lateral dielectrophoresis

I. Fang Cheng, Wei Lun Huang, Tzu Ying Chen, Chien Wei Liu, Yu De Lin, Wu Chou Su

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

84 Citations (Scopus)


We present an antibody-free approach for the high-purity and high-throughput dielectrophoretic (DEP) isolation of circulating tumour cells (CTCs) from blood in a microfluidic chip. A hydrodynamic sheath flow is designed upstream in the chip to direct the suspension samples to the channel side walls, thus providing a queue to allow DEP-induced lateral displacements. High-throughput continuous cancer cell sorting (maximum flow rate: ~2.4 mL h-1, linear velocity: ~4 mm s-1) is achieved with a sustained 3D lateral DEP (LDEP) particle force normal to the continuous through-flow. This design allows the continuous fractionation of micro/nanosized particles into different downstream subchannels based on the differences in their different critical negative DEP strengths/mobilities. The main advantage of this separation strategy is that increasing the channel length can effectively increase the throughput proportionally. The effective separation of rare cancer cells (<0.001%) from diluted human blood in a handheld chip is demonstrated. An enrichment factor of 105 and a recovery rate of ~85% from a 0.001% cancer cell sample are achieved at an optimal flow rate of 20 μL min-1 passing through a 6 cm long LDEP channel with an appropriate voltage at a frequency of 10 kHz. A higher throughput of 2.4 mL h-1 is also achieved with a 13 cm long metal-based microchannel.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2950-2959
Number of pages10
JournalLab on a Chip
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Jul 21

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Bioengineering
  • Biochemistry
  • General Chemistry
  • Biomedical Engineering


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