Hoshino K, Chung H, Chu C, Rajendran K, Huang H, Chen P, Sokolov K, Kim J, Zhang J (2015) Journal of Circulating Biomarkers. 4:11. 1-7. DOI: 10.5772/61822

Circulating tumour cells (CTCs) are important indicators of metastatic cancer and may provide critical information for individualized treatment. As CTCs are usually very rare, the techniques to obtain information from very small numbers of cells are crucial. This study proposes a method to perform a single cell quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) analysis of rare tumour cells.

The research team utilized a microfluidic immunomagnetic assay to separate cancer cells from blood. A combination of detailed immunofluorescence and laser microdissection enabled the precise selection of individual cells. Cancer cells that were spiked into blood were successfully separated and picked up for a single cell PCR analysis. The breast cancer cell lines MCF7, SKBR3 and MDAMB231 were tested with 10 different genes.

The result of the single cell analysis matched the results from a few thousand cells. Some markers (e.g., ER, HER2) that are commonly used for cancer identification showed relatively large deviations in expression levels. However, others (e.g., GRB7) showed deviations that are small enough to supplement single cell disease profiling.

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