The systematic study of circulating tumor cell isolation using lithographic microfilters

Daniel L. Adams, Peixuan Zhu, Olga V. Makarova, Stuart S. Martin, Monica Charpentier, Saranya Chumsri, Shuhong Li, Platte Amstutz, Cha Mei Tang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

93 Scopus citations


Circulating tumor cells (CTCs) disseminated into peripheral blood from a primary, or metastatic, tumor can be used for early detection, diagnosis and monitoring of solid malignancies. CTC isolation by size exclusion techniques have long interested researchers as a simple broad based approach, which is methodologically diverse for use in both genomic and protein detection platforms. Though a variety of these microfiltration systems are employed academically and commercially, the limited ability to easily alter microfilter designs has hindered the optimization for CTC capture. To overcome this problem, we studied a unique photo-definable material with a scalable and mass producible photolithographic fabrication method. We use this fabrication method to systematically study and optimize the parameters necessary for CTC isolation using a microfiltration approach, followed by a comparison to a "standard" filtration membrane. We demonstrate that properly designed microfilters can capture MCF-7 cancer cells at rate of 98 ± 2% if they consist of uniform patterned distributions, ≥160-000 pores, and 7 μm pore diameters.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4334-4342
Number of pages9
JournalRSC Advances
Issue number9
StatePublished - 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Chemical Engineering(all)


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