Isolation of circulating tumor cells (CTCs) from blood samples has important prognostic and therapeutic implications for cancer treatments, but the process is very challenging due to the low concentration of CTCs. In this study, we report a novel 3D printed microfluidic device functionalized with anti-EpCAM (epithelial cell adhesion molecule) antibodies to isolate CTCs from human blood samples. A 3D printing technology was utilized with specially designed interior structures to fabricate a microfluidic device with high surface area and fluid flow manipulation, increasing capture efficiency of tumor cells. These devices with the optimal flow rate (1 mL/h) and channel length (2 cm) were demonstrated to test three kinds of EpCAM positive cancer cell lines (MCF-7 breast cancer, SW480 colon cancer, and PC3 prostate cancer), and one kind of EpCAM negative cancer cell line (293T kidney cancer). Experimentally, the capture efficiency higher than 90% has been achieved, and the isolation of MCF-7 tumor cells from spiked human blood samples has also been demonstrated. Combined with DNA-based detection (e.g. polymerase chain reaction or DNA sequencing), the detection and analysis of released DNAs from captured tumor cells could be another future direction for clinical diagnosis and cancer treatment.
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