Early cancer detection, its monitoring, and therapeutical prediction are highly valuable, though extremely challenging targets in oncology. Significant progress has been made recently, resulting in a group of devices and techniques that are now capable of successfully detecting, interpreting, and monitoring cancer biomarkers in body fluids. Precise information about malignancies can be obtained from liquid biopsies by isolating and analyzing circulating tumor cells (CTCs) or nucleic acids, tumor-derived vesicles or proteins, and metabolites. The current work provides a general overview of the latest on-chip technological developments for cancer liquid biopsy. Current challenges for their translation and their application in various clinical settings are discussed. Microfluidic solutions for each set of biomarkers are compared, and a global overview of the major trends and ongoing research challenges is given. A detailed analysis of the microfluidic isolation of CTCs with recent efforts that aimed at increasing purity and capture efficiency is provided as well. Although CTCs have been the focus of a vast microfluidic research effort as the key element for obtaining relevant information, important clinical insights can also be achieved from alternative biomarkers, such as classical protein biomarkers, exosomes, or circulating-free nucleic acids. Finally, while most work has been devoted to the analysis of blood-based biomarkers, we highlight the less explored potential of urine as an ideal source of molecular cancer biomarkers for point-of-care lab-on-chip devices.
Recent advances in microfluidic methods in cancer liquid biopsy
Florina S. Iliescu, Daniel P. Poenar, Fang Yu, Ming Ni, Kiat Hwa Chan, Irina Cima, Hayden K. Taylor, Igor Cima, Ciprian Iliescu; Recent advances in microfluidic methods in cancer liquid biopsy. Biomicrofluidics 1 July 2019; 13 (4): 041503. https://doi.org/10.1063/1.5087690
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