May 29, 2024
Cancer Care

Revolutionizing Cancer Care: Cytometry Chip Enables Personalized Treatment Plans

In a groundbreaking development, Imec, a Belgium-based research and innovation hub, and the KU Leuven laboratory of tumor immunology and immunotherapy have successfully validated a cell sorter chip technology for clinical use. The chip, which accurately identified PD-1 positive T cells in blood samples from ovarian cancer patients, has the potential to revolutionize cancer therapy through personalized treatment plans. The results of this collaboration were recently published in the journal Cells.

Imec’s cytometry and cell sorter technology utilizes microfluidic channels on a chip to guide a sample containing fluorescently labeled cells towards an excitation laser, a detection unit, and a sorting junction where the target cells are separated into a side channel. This unique method, employing vapor bubbles created in a water-filled microchamber with microheaters, allows for efficient identification and quantification of specific immune cells.

The team conducted rigorous tests using patient samples at Imec and the laboratory of tumor immunology and immunotherapy at KU Leuven. The results clearly demonstrated that the chip’s fluidics system can detect CD8+PD-1+ T-cells, a specific type of immune cell, as effectively as conventional flow cytometry tools. This breakthrough has significant implications for monitoring the immune system’s response to disease and treatment, leading to more effective cancer therapy.

Currently, immune profiling, the identification and quantification of a patient’s immune cells at a particular point in time, is a promising area of cancer research. However, it is not widely used in clinical practice due to the expensive, bulky, and complex nature of flow cytometry equipment. These instruments are only available in specialized labs, requiring the transportation of blood samples and posing challenges in maintaining cell viability. Consequently, routine monitoring of patients is difficult.

Imec’s cell sorter technology presents a game-changing solution by providing oncologists with a portable tool, about the size of a lunchbox, which can be used in an office or daycare center to assess a patient’s immune system condition at multiple time points. A simple blood drop is inserted into the chip cartridge, which is then analyzed on a desktop platform that provides results within minutes. The use of standard chip technology enables cost-effective mass production and potentially disposable chips, minimizing the risk of cross-sample contamination.

What sets Imec’s cell sorter concept apart is its ability to achieve high throughput without compromising sensitivity. The chip fabrication process allows for the creation of multiple microfluidic channels per chip, resulting in a remarkably fast time-to-result of approximately 10 minutes for a complete immune signature. By comparing immune signatures with large datasets, oncologists can quickly determine the efficacy of a treatment, contributing to more informed decision-making.

The successful validation of Imec’s cell sorter chip technology using CD8+PD-1+ T cells has paved the way for future advancements in cancer research and treatment. This breakthrough not only offers the potential for personalized treatment plans but also addresses the limitations of current flow cytometry equipment. With further development and refinement, this innovative tool has the capacity to transform cancer care, enabling healthcare professionals to monitor patients’ immune responses in real-time, leading to improved outcomes and a more personalized approach to therapy.

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1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it