Cells that help to drive the spread of cancer throughout the body can be detected with high sensitivity in early-stage cancer patients using a novel nanomaterial-based chip. The findings, reported online this week in Nature Nanotechnology, suggest that the isolation and recovery of these cells could inform the diagnosis and treatment of cancer patients.
Sunitha Nagrath and colleagues have developed a graphene oxide-based chip that can capture rare circulating tumour cells that detach from the existing tumour and can get carried in the bloodstream to other tissues, thus spreading cancer. Using their nanoscale device, the researchers can select for these cancerous cells from healthy blood cells and analyse them for cancer-related biomarkers. The team believes that these biomarkers will provide insights into the character of the cancer and potentially influence the management of the disease.