• biotechnology;
  • cellular profiling;
  • circulating tumor cells;
  • genetic analysis;
  • microfluidics
Thumbnail image of graphical abstract

Many cancers shed malignant cells into the circulation. These cancer cells are important for both diagnostic and therapeutic purposes but their purification, quantification and characterization remain challenging. On page 432, Hakho Lee, Ralph Weissleder, and co-workers present a low-cost, rapid microfluidic cell sorter (μFCS) device for the detection and molecular analysis of circulating tumor cells (CTCs). The μFCS efficiently enriches CTCs from unprocessed whole blood, allows on-chip culture and molecular profiling, and provides cell retrieval for subsequent analyses. The potential clinical application of the technology is demonstrated by capturing and genetically analyzing CTCs in tumorbearing mice.