Microfilter-based capture and release of viable circulating tumor cells

Siddarth Rawal, Zheng Ao, Ram H. Datar, Ashutosh Agarwal

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

3 Scopus citations


Microfilters with slot-pore geometry can be used for size-based capture of circulating tumor cells (CTC) from the blood of cancer patients. The slot pore geometry reduces the shear stress that the cells would typically experience during filtration process and allows the cells to remain viable. The microfilter provides a platform capable of high CTC capture efficiency; however, the release of these cells from the filter following capture is nontrivial, possibly due to the strong nonspecific electrostatic adhesion of CTC to the microfilter surface. Techniques such as reverse flow or cell scraping result in recovery of only a small percentage of captured cells. We describe, in detail, a protocol for novel application of thermo-responsive polymer poly(N-iso-propylacrylamide) (PIPAAm) to release viable CTCs from microfilters with slot pores. Following fabrication of the microfilter, a coating of PIPAAm is applied to the surface to exploit its thermoresponsive interfacial properties to release the cells. Typically, cancer patient’s blood is filtered at room temperature (below 32 °C) when PIPAAm is hydrophilic. Thereafter, the filter is placed in either culture medium or a buffer maintained at 37 °C, which renders PIPAAm hydrophobic, allowing subsequent release of the electrostatically bound cells with high efficiency. Using this method, viable CTC captured directly from cancer patients’ blood can be subjected to downstream off-chip culture, analyses, and characterization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationMethods in Molecular Biology
PublisherHumana Press Inc.
Number of pages13
StatePublished - 2017

Publication series

NameMethods in Molecular Biology
ISSN (Print)1064-3745


  • CTC culture
  • Circulating tumor cell
  • Liquid biopsy
  • Live cell capture
  • Microfilter
  • Personalized medicine
  • Precision medicine
  • Translational medicine
  • Viable CTC

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics


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