Rare cells in blood, such as circulating tumor cells or fetal cells in the maternal circulation, posses a great prognostic or diagnostic value, or for the development of personalized medicine, where the study of rare cells could provide information to more specifically targeted treatments. When conventional cell separation methods, such as flow cytometry or magnetic activated cell sorting, have fallen short other methods are desperately sought for. Microfluidics have been extensively used towards isolating and processing rare cells as it offers possibilities not present in the conventional systems. Furthermore, microfluidic methods offer new possibilities for cell separation as they often rely on non-traditional biomarkers and intrinsic cell properties. This offers the possibility to isolate cell populations that would otherwise not be targeted using conventional methods. Here, we provide an extensive review of the latest advances in continuous flow microfluidic rare cell separation and processing with each cell's specific characteristics and separation challenges as a point of view.
Maria Antfolka, b, c, , , Thomas Laurella, d
a Dept. of Biomedical Engineering, Lund University, Sweden
b Biotech Research and Innovation Centre, University of Copenhagen, Denmark
c Dept. of Bioengineering, University of California, Los Angeles, USA
d Dept. of Biomedical Engineering, Dongguk University, South Korea
Received 28 December 2016, Revised 31 January 2017, Accepted 3 February 2017, Available online 20 February 2017