Separating circulating cancer cells from blood cells for diagnostic, prognostic and treatment purposes may become much easier using an acoustic separation method and an inexpensive, disposable chip, according to a team of engineers. Existing methods of separation use tumor-specific antibodies to bind with the cancer cells and isolate them, but require that the appropriate antibodies be known in advance. Other methods rely on size, deformability or electrical properties. Unlike conventional separation methods that centrifuge for 10 minutes at 3000 revolutions per minute, surface acoustic waves can separate cells in a much gentler way with a simple, low-cost device.
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