Research Highlight

Liquid biopsy shows promising results

doi:10.1038/nindia.2017.16 Published online 6 February 2017

Researchers have developed a system that can detect, capture and remove tumour cells circulating in the peripheral bloodstream, making it potentially useful for diagnosing and treating cancers.   

Primary tumours shed cells which circulate in the bloodstream, eventually forming masses in organs, a process known as metastasis. Circulating tumour cells are promising cancer biomarkers.  

Using magnetic nanoparticles and a polymer, scientists led by Jayant J. Khandare and Shashwat Banerjee from Pune-based Maharashtra Institute of Pharmacy, along with Actorius Innovations and Research, and Maharashtra Institute of Medical Education and Research Medical College, fabricated a three-dimensional microchannel system. They tested its efficiency in detecting and capturing breast and colon cancer cells isolated from patients.   

The nanoparticles inside the microchannel interacted with the cancer cells and played vital roles in efficiently capturing them, even at low concentration.

The system took 15 minutes to capture tumour cells from cultured cancer cells and spiked blood samples. In future, this microchannel could open new opportunities for early diagnosis of cancer through liquid biopsy, as well as recovery of other rare cells, proteins and DNA from biological specimens, the researchers say.


1. Banerjee, S. S. et al. Biofunctionalized capillary flow channel platform integrated with 3D nanostructured matrix to capture circulating tumor cells. Adv. Mater. Interf. (2017) doi:10.1002/admi.201600934