A multi-dimensional approach for cell sorting and characterization described in J. Am. Chem. Soc.

Cancer cells, and in particular those found circulating in blood, can have widely varying phenotypes and molecular profiles despite a common origin. New methods are needed that can deconvolute the heterogeneity of cancer cells and sort small numbers of cells to aid in the characterization of cancer cell subpopulations. In the March 2nd issue of the Journal of the American Chemical Society, we described a new molecular approach to capturing cancer cells that isolates subpopulations using two-dimensional sorting. Using aptamer-mediated capture and antisense-triggered release, the new strategy sorts cells according to levels of two different markers and thereby separates them into their corresponding subpopulations. Using a phenotypic assay, we demonstrate that the subpopulations isolated have markedly different properties. This system provides an important new tool for identifying CTC subtypes exhibiting the greatest clinical relevance.

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