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Circulating Tumor Cells

Strategies for Capture, Analyses, and Propagation

Agarwal, Ashutosh PhD*; Balic, Marija MD, PhD; El-Ashry, Dorraya PhD; Cote, Richard J. MD, FRCPath, FCAP§

doi: 10.1097/PPO.0000000000000310
Review Articles

Circulating tumor cells (CTCs) play a central role in tumor dissemination and metastases, which are ultimately responsible for most cancer deaths. Technologies that allow for identification and enumeration of rare CTC from cancer patients’ blood have already established CTC as an important clinical biomarker for cancer diagnosis and prognosis. Indeed, current efforts to robustly characterize CTC as well as the associated cells of the tumor microenvironment such as circulating cancer associated fibroblasts (cCAF), are poised to unmask key insights into the metastatic process. Ultimately, the clinical utility of CTC will be fully realized once CTC can be reliably cultured and proliferated as a biospecimen for precision management of cancer patients, and for discovery of novel therapeutics. In this review, we highlight the latest CTC capture and analyses technologies, and discuss in vitro strategies for culturing and propagating CTC.

From the *Department of Biomedical Engineering and Department of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine, University of Miami; †Division of Oncology, Department of Internal Medicine, Research Unit Circulating Tumor Cells and Cancer Stem Cells, Medical University of Graz, Austria; ‡Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology, University of Minnesota; and §Department of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine and John T. Macdonald Foundation Biomedical Nanotechnology Institute (BioNIUM), University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Miami, FL.

The authors have disclosed that they have no significant relationships with, or financial interest in, any commercial companies pertaining to this article.

Reprints: Richard J. Cote, MD, FRCPath, FCAP, 1120 NW 14th Street, Suite 1416, Miami, FL 33136. E-mail:

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