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Microfluidic devices for the isolation of circulating rare cells: A focus on affinity-based, dielectrophoresis, and hydrophoresis


  • Colour Online: See the article online to view Figs. 2–6 in colour.

Correspondence: Professor Hyo-Il Jung, School of Mechanical Engineering, Yonsei University, 50 Yonsei-no Seodaemun-gu, Seoul 120-752, South Korea


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Circulating rare cells have attracted interest because they can be good indicators of various types of diseases. For example, enumeration of circulating tumor cells is used for cancer diagnosis and prognosis, while DNA analysis or enumeration of nucleated red blood cells is useful for prenatal diagnosis or hypoxic anemia, and that of circulating stem cells to diagnose cancer metastasis. Isolation of these cells and their downstream analyses can provide significant information such as the origin and characteristics of a disease. Novel approaches based on microfluidics have many advantages, including the continuous process and integration with other components for analysis. For these reasons, a variety of microfluidic devices have been developed to isolate and characterize rare cells. In this article, we review several microfluidic devices, with a focus on affinity-based isolation (e.g. antigen-antibody reaction) and label-free separation (DEP and hydrophoresis).