Development of Optofluidic Systems for the Isolation of Cd45neg/Epcamneg Cells and Circulating Tumor Cell Clusters in Blood Samples - Their Application for the Analysis of Tumor-Related Gene Expression and Evaluation of Clinical Significance of These Cells

Project: National Science and Technology CouncilNational Science and Technology Council Academic Grants

Project Details


Cancer metastasis is a leading cause of cancer-derived death. Circulating tumor cells (CTCs) are cells shed from primary tumors into adjacent vasculature and subsequently present in blood circulation. Growing evidence has suggested that the existence of CTCs in blood circulation is associated with cancer metastasis. Therefore, the analysis of CTCs holds great promise for several clinical applications. The current CTCs-related studies mainly utilize the cellular surface protein -EpCAM as a marker for the recognition and definition of CTCs. However, this method could miss the other tumor cells in a blood sample, which might be more clinically-meaningful (e.g. the CTCs undergone the so-called epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT), or so-called CTC clusters). This research project aims to explore the clinical significances of these two tumor cell groups. To achieve this, the high-purity isolation of these cells from a blood sample is crucial. For this purpose, two optofluidic systems capable of isolating CD45neg/EpCAMneg cells (the CTCs undergone the EMT exist in this cell group) and CTC clusters will be developed in the first and second years of this research project, respectively. In the two optofluidic systems, the technique of optically-induced dielectrophoresis-based cell manipulation will be utilized to achieve high-purity cell isolation (Goal: cell purity >95%). In addition, we will also explore the clinical significance of the two cell groups harvested. In the third year project, we will use the two optofluidic systems for the isolation of CD45neg/EpCAMneg cells and CTC clusters from the blood samples of metastatic head-and-neck cancer patients. The quantification of cell number and the tumor-related gene expression analysis will be carried out. The data obtained from these evaluations will be correlated with cancer disease status and clinical prognosis to find out the clinical significance of these two cell groups. As a whole, if the data obtained from the analysis of conventionally-defined CTCs can combine with the biological messages obtained from the two cell groups studied in this project this integration will make the information required for clinical evaluation more comprehensive and sufficient. This is found particularly valuable for the quality improvement of cancer precision medicine.

Project IDs

Project ID:PB10901-0775
External Project ID:MOST107-2221-E182-033-MY3
Effective start/end date01/08/2031/07/21


  • Optofluidic system
  • Optically-induced dielectrophoresis
  • Cell isolation and purification
  • Circulating tumor cells (CTCs)
  • Head-and-Neck cancer


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