We report a detection system for simultaneous measurement of cellular and molecular markers of cancer. Magnetic beads conjugated with antibodies against a specific antigen are used to capture both free molecules and whole cells overexpressing the antigen. The target-bound beads then flow through a microfluidic chamber where they are drawn to a glass surface by an external magnetic field. The cells and molecules captured on the surface are quantitatively analyzed using fluorescent microscopy. The system was characterized by detecting free folate receptor (FR) and an FR+ cancer cell line (KB) in culture media. The system detected as low as 10 pM of FR and captured 87% of the spiked KB cells at a volumetric throughput of 3 mL/min. We further demonstrated the detection of 100 KB cells and 200 pM FR spiked into healthy human blood to simulate detection of rare cells and protein biomarkers present in a cancer patient's blood sample. The FR concentration was measured to be 244 pM (including the intrinsic FR present in the blood), and the total number of KB cells in the sample was estimated to be 98. The potential of this approach in clinical diagnostics was also demonstrated by detecting both FR+ cells and free FR in an ascites sample obtained from an ovarian cancer patient. Because of the system's capability to detect multiple targets at the same time, its high throughput, and its overall simplicity, we expect it to be highly useful in a wide range of research settings.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Analytical Chemistry