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ANGLE’S Parsortix Performs Well in CTC Capture Study

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A rigorous evaluation by researchers at University Medical Centre Hamburg-Eppendorf (UKE) published in the International Journal of Cancer today of ANGLE’s ParsortixTM cell separation system demonstrated significant advantages of its size and deformability based enrichment technology, versus marker-based and filtration enrichment systems.

The report, A Novel Microfluidic Platform for Size and Deformability Based Separation and the Subsequent Molecular Characterization of Viable Circulating Tumor Cells, determined that the ParsortixTM System enables the isolation of viable CTCs at a very high purity and provides viable tumour cells that are easily accessible and ready for a broad range of molecular and functional analyses. “The system’s ability to provide numeration and molecular characterization of EpCAM-negative CTCs will help to broaden research into the mechanisms of cancer as well as facilitating the use of CTCs in ‘liquid biopsies,’” the report stated.

According to co-author Prof. Klaus Pantel, Chairman, Department of Tumour Biology at UKE’s Centre of Experimental Medicine, systems that can comprehensively capture the broad range of CTCs – not only epithelial cells, but others including mesenchymal cells ¬– will play an important role in cancer diagnoses and subsequent treatment.

“Our findings emphasize the importance of developing new label-free assays that allow the molecular characterization of CTCs for therapeutic targets and resistance mechanisms at the DNA, RNA and protein level,” Pantel said. “This information is vital as liquid biopsies will help clinicians to adapt therapies to the individual needs of cancer patients.” 

To put ParsortixTM through its paces, the team of researchers lead by Prof. Pantel, working from three locations in Philadelphia, Hamburg and Dusseldorf analyzed the performance of the marker-independent system for the capture of tumor cells from blood samples spiked with five different cancer cell lines and multiple patient samples including metastatic breast, non-metastatic colon, metastatic colon, metastatic lung, and non-metastatic lung cancer. Using the system, UKE researchers showed average tumor cell capture ranged from 42 per cent to 70 per cent with subsequent harvest of the cells ranging between 54 per cent and 69 per cent of the ¬¬cells captured.  One of the novel and powerful capabilities that distinguishes the ParsortixTM system is that it enables easy harvest of captured tumor cells for further downstream analyses. In addition, 99 per cent of the harvested CTCs from both spiked and patient samples were viable after processing and still functional for downstream molecular analysis as demonstrated by mRNA characterization and array based comparative genomic hybridization. 

“The epitope independent ParsortixTM system enables the isolation of viable CTCs at a very high purity. Using our system, viable tumour cells are easily accessible and ready for molecular and functional analysis,” said Dr George Hvichia, the inventor of ParsortixTM technology and CSO, ANGLE plc. “The system’s ability for enumeration and molecular characterization of EpCAM-negative CTCs will help to broaden research into the mechanisms of cancer as well as facilitating the use of CTCs as liquid biopsies.”

The results obtained by the collaborative team demonstrate the importance of being able to effectively harvest CTCs not only with epithelial characteristics, but also those in the process of, or that have completed, epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) across a broad range of cancer types. 

A growing body of evidence has shown that cancer cells in the process of, or that had completed EMT have increased invasion capabilities, which leads to the loss of epithelial cell adhesion molecule (EpCAM) antibodies. Currently, CTC isolation is still mainly based on EpCAM expression on the surface of cancer cells of epithelial origin. New research, however, indicates that EMT is increasingly recognized to play a significant role in metastasis and certain EMT cancer cells lose EpCAM expression. Isolation by techniques that are independent of marker expression, such as ParsortixTM, may help to capture those EMT CTCs and provide a more precise path to the diagnosis and treatment of metastatic cancer.