Yu-Heng Cheng et al have developed a new device that allows the capture of pure circulating tumour cells (CTCs) from the blood and the extraction of genetic information without any contamination from other blood cells. The new technique, named Hydro-Seq, is a scalable hydrodynamic, small conditional RNA-seq barcoding technique for high-throughput CTC analysis. It involves a chip with a system of channels and chambers which traps cancer cells one at a time by drawing fluid through a drain in each chamber, which gets plugged when a cancer cell arrives. Once the chamber is plugged, cells in the channel pass it by and get sucked into the next chamber. The researchers collected and analysed 666 cancer cells from the blood of 21 breast cancer patients. The study identified breast cancer drug targets for hormone and targeted therapies and tracked individual cells that express markers of cancer stem cells as well as of epithelial/mesenchymal cell state transitions. The scientists evaluated the cells’ “transcriptomes” in the samples of isolated cancer cells using barcoded beads to which the RNA was attached. Transcriptome analysis of these cells gave insights into monitoring target therapeutics and the processes underlying tumour metastasis.
Source: Nature Communications 10, Article number: 2163 (2019) 15 May 2019 https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-019-10122-2