Nanopots Technique to Measure Protein Content in CTCs

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A team of researchers developed an innovative method to isolate circulating tumor cells (CTCs) from blood and determine which proteins were present.

Ryan Kelly, Professor of Chemistry at Brigham Young University, collaborated with researchers from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and Oregon Health & Science University to isolate circulating tumor cells (CTCs) from blood and determine which proteins were present. The team used a new technology, called nanopots, to examine the protein content from a single cell.

Circulating tumor cells are disunited from a tumor and carried around the other body parts, allowing growth of new tumor cells in other part of the body. The therapies of cancer are greatly influenced by the biochemical makeup of tumors. The new method to assess the protein level in individual cells will help doctors to make effective treatment for cancers. The findings were published in the journal Analytical Chemistry.

The occurrence of CTCs are very rare, therefore its protein level cannot be studied easily, however nanopots enable researchers to measure protein in these cells with ease. Previously, scientists would simply count the number of CTCs to correlate the treatment of cancer with drugs.

“By measuring the proteins in CTCs, physicians will be better equipped to know what is working with a therapy regimen and continue or modify treatment accordingly,” said Kelly. “What we are doing is cataloging as many proteins as possible from single cells, without having to pick what we’re looking for beforehand. Nobody’s done that before with small numbers of CTCs.”

The researchers hope that CTCs could act as liquid biopsy allowing with critical information about tumors from a simple test.

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