High efficiency vortex trapping of circulating tumor cells

Manjima Dhar, Jessica Wong, Armin Karimi, James Che, Corinne Renier, Melissa Matsumoto, Melanie Triboulet, Edward B. Garon, Jonathan W. Goldman, Matthew B. Rettig, Stefanie S. Jeffrey, Rajan P. Kulkarni, Elodie Sollier, Dino Di Carlo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


Circulating tumor cells (CTCs) are important biomarkers for monitoring tumor dynamics and efficacy of cancer therapy. Several technologies have been demonstrated to isolate CTCs with high efficiency but achieve a low purity from a large background of blood cells. We have previously shown the ability to enrich CTCs with high purity from large volumes of blood through selective capture in microvortices using the Vortex Chip. The device consists of a narrow channel followed by a series of expansion regions called reservoirs. Fast flow in the narrow entry channel gives rise to inertial forces, which direct larger cells into trapping vortices in the reservoirs where they remain circulating in orbits. By studying the entry and stability of particles following entry into reservoirs, we discover that channel cross sectional area plays an important role in controlling the size of trapped particles, not just the orbital trajectories. Using these design modifications, we demonstrate a new device that is able to capture a wider size range of CTCs from clinical samples, uncovering further heterogeneity. This simple biophysical method opens doors for a range of downstream interventions, including genetic analysis, cell culture, and ultimately personalized cancer therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number064116
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2015
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • General Materials Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Fluid Flow and Transfer Processes
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry


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