Medical Oncology

, 33:36 | Cite as

Tracking metastatic breast cancer: the future of biology in biosensors

  • Y. C. Lim
  • A. P. WiegmansEmail author
Original Paper


Circulating tumour cells associated with breast cancer (brCTCs) represent cells that have the capability to establish aggressive secondary metastatic tumours. The isolation and characterization of CTCs from blood in a single device is the future of oncology diagnosis and treatment. The methods of enrichment of CTCs have primarily utilized simple biological interactions with bimodal reporting with biased high purity and low numbers or low purity and high background. In this review, we will discuss the advances in microfluidics that has allowed the use of more complex selection criteria and biological methods to identify CTC populations. We will also discuss a potential new method of selection based on the response of the oncogenic DNA repair pathways within brCTCs. This method would allow insight into not only the oncogenic signalling at play but the chemoresistance mechanisms that could guide future therapeutic intervention at any stage of disease progression.


Circulating tumour cells DNA damage response Microfluidics EpCAM Metastatic breast cancer 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

All authors declared no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Translational Brain Cancer Research LaboratoryQIMR Berghofer Medical Research InstituteHerstonAustralia
  2. 2.Tumour Microenvironment LaboratoryQIMR Berghofer Medical Research InstituteHerstonAustralia

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