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November 17, 2012

Jellyfish tentacles inspire DNA chains to snag roving cancer cells

(Continued)

Karp and his colleagues found they could push fluid through 10 times faster than previous systems allowed. They also showed that their bio-inspired device can catch up to 80 percent of target cells. Scaling the technology up could increase the flow rate 100-fold and make it practical for future use in hospitals.

And since the tentacles can also be severed with enzymes, the captured cancer cells can be freed and recovered in the sample for later analysis, the study pointed out.

Since different aptamers can snag different types of proteins, the technology could prove useful for finding a number of different cancers.

It may also be able to capture free-floating fetal cells in a pregnant woman’s bloodstream, the researchers said.

Identifying these metastatic cancer cells earlier would help doctors personalize their patients’ treatment. And for leukemia patients, it could one day help doctors see whether a treatment is working without resorting to painful bone marrow sampling.

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