Research ArticleCANCER

Liquid biopsy and therapeutic response: Circulating tumor cell cultures for evaluation of anticancer treatment

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Science Advances  13 Jul 2016:
Vol. 2, no. 7, e1600274
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1600274


The lack of a robust anticancer drug screening system to monitor patients during treatment delays realization of personalized treatment. We demonstrate an efficient approach to evaluate drug response using patient-derived circulating tumor cell (CTC) cultures obtained from liquid biopsy. Custom microfabricated tapered microwells were integrated with microfluidics to allow robust formation of CTC clusters without pre-enrichment and subsequent drug screening in situ. Rapid feedback after 2 weeks promotes immediate intervention upon detection of drug resistance or tolerance. The procedure was clinically validated with blood samples (n = 73) from 55 patients with early-stage, newly diagnosed, locally advanced, or refractory metastatic breast cancer. Twenty-four of these samples were used for drug evaluation. Cluster formation potential correlated inversely with increased drug concentration and therapeutic treatment. This new and robust liquid biopsy technique can potentially evaluate patient prognosis with CTC clusters during treatment and provide a noninvasive and inexpensive assessment that can guide drug discovery development or therapeutic choices for personalized treatment.

  • Breast cancer
  • circulating tumor cells
  • drug response
  • combinational therapy
  • microfluidics

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, so long as the resultant use is not for commercial advantage and provided the original work is properly cited.

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