USA – Researchers at Georgia Institute of Technology have pioneered a 3D printed device that could help transform personalised cancer care. Pinpointing cancer cells among billions of blood cells is needle in a haystack stuff, so the Georgia Tech scientists removed the hay.

“Isolating circulating tumour cells from whole blood samples has been a challenge because we are looking for a handful of cancer cells mixed with billions of normal red and white blood cells,” explained A. Fatih Sarioglu, an assistant professor in Georgia Tech’s School of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE). “With this device, we can process a clinically-relevant volume of blood by capturing nearly all of the white blood cells and then filtering out the red blood cells by size. That leaves us with undamaged tumor cells that can be sequenced to determine the specific cancer type and the unique characteristics of each patient’s tumor.”


The team has been testing cells from prostate, breast and ovarian cancer but Sarioglu insists the device will capture tumour cells from any cancer.

“We expect that this will really be an enabling tool for clinicians,” Sarioglu added. “In our lab, the mindset is always toward translating our research by making the device simple enough to be used in hospitals, clinics and other facilities that will help diagnose disease in patients.”

The research was reported September 20 in the journal Lab on a Chip