Vortex Biosciences Technology for Fast and Label-Free Isolation of Circulating Tumor Cells from Blood Samples

Recorded On: 02/06/2017

Current tumor tissue biopsies are invasive procedures that can be limited by small sample size and difficulty accessing the tumor site. Moreover, single-site tumor biopsies may not recapitulate intra-tumor heterogeneity and may fail to reflect the genetic diversity of a patient. These limitations can be overcome with a liquid biopsy. Liquid biopsies are non-invasive blood tests that aim to isolate and analyze circulating tumor cells and/or cell-free DNA that are continuously shed into the bloodstream by both primary and metastatic lesions. Liquid biopsies are readily amenable to serial sampling and could provide real-time and more representative information on tumor evolution, treatment effectiveness and cancer metastatic risks. Ultimately, liquid biopsies may allow earlier detection and more personalized treatment of cancer.

Vortex Biosciences has developed VTX-1, a fast and simple platform to isolate and collect intact circulating tumor cells (CTCs) directly from whole blood in less than 1.5 hours. Based on inertial microfluidics and capture in microscale vortices, our CTC isolation process is label-free, contact-free, and high-throughput, providing intact CTCs that can be collected in suspension within various containers. Besides, samples processed by the Vortex VTX-1 system have minimal white blood cell contamination, resulting in a highly enriched CTC sample. In preliminary clinical studies, CTCs were isolated with high purity (from 1.4 to 92.5 WBCs per mL blood) from patients with metastatic breast (median 40.68 CTCs per 7.5mL; n=22), colorectal (median 12.23 CTCs per 7.5 mL, n=41), non-small cell lung (NSCLC) (median 26.25 CTCs per 7.5 mL, n=15), and prostate (median 5.63 CTCs per 7.5mL, n=20) cancers.

This CTC technology offers significant advantages for downstream analysis: (i) Isolated CTCs are representative of the patient's status and remain unbiased by molecular characteristics, as confirmed by immunofluorescence staining and enumeration. (ii) CTCs collected at higher purity increase the accuracy and sensitivity of downstream assays, such as cytology, next-generation sequencing and Sanger sequencing. For example, using Papanicoalou staining, atypical cells were detected in 15 out of 16 NSCLC samples, with morphological similarities observed in corresponding primary tumor. In another study, KRAS, BRAF, PIK3CA mutations were detected by Sanger sequencing, revealing concordance between CTCs and liver metastasis for 7 out of 9 colorectal cancer patients. (iii) CTCs are unaltered and undamaged by labels or reagents, making them ideal for cell culture experiments and live cell assays, such as CDX model, RNA sequencing, or protein assays (western-blot, Epispot assay). Several case studies with patient samples of metastatic breast, lung, colon and prostate cancer will be presented to illustrate these advantages of the system.

Elodie Sollier-Christen, Ph.D

Co-Founder and Chief Scientific Officer, Vortex Biosciences, Inc. (USA)

Menlo Park, CA.

Elodie is Co-Founder, Chief Scientific Officer and Vice-President Research & Development for Vortex Biosciences, heading the scientific initiatives for the commercialization of the VTX-1 Liquid Biopsy System. The VTX-1 automates the isolation of circulating tumor cells directly from cancer patient blood samples. Elodie received a Physics Engineering Degree from Grenoble Institute of Technology and a PhD in Physics for Life Science from CEA LETI Minatec at Grenoble, France. Her PhD was followed by post-doctoral research in Bioengineering Department, University of California, Los Angeles, with Professor Dino Di Carlo. Her work resulted in the publication of articles in peer-reviewed journals, review papers, presentations in international conferences, and several patents including technologies from UCLA licensed to Vortex Biosciences.

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