New Device Filters Blood- Kills Tumor Cells and Captures Stem Cells



Stemcapture is a new company commercializing a neat device licenses from the University of Rochester.  As reported in what’s next in health

Associate Professor Michael King of the University of Rochester Biomedical Engineering Department has invented a device that filters the blood for cancer and stem cells. When he captures cancer cells, he kills them. When he captures stem cells, he harvests them for later use in tissue engineering, bone marrow transplants, and other applications that treat human disease and improve health. With Nichola Charles, Jared Kanofsky, and Jane L. Liesveld of the University of Rochester, King wrote about his discoveries in “Using Protein-Functionalized Microchannels for Stem Cell Separation,” Paper No. ICNMM2006-96228, Proceedings of the ASME, June 2006. King’s team includes scientists at StemCapture, Inc., a Rochester company that bought the University patent for King’s technique in November 2005 to build the cancer-killing and stem cell-harvesting devices. The technique can be used in vivo, meaning a device is inserted in the body, or in vitro, in which case the device resides outside of the body – either way, the device kills cancer cells and captures stem cells, which grow into blood cells, bone, cartilage, and fat.

Basically this is a high tech molecular based blood filter.  It has great potential for cancer therapeutics.

Read much more about the technology and the research behind it (along with a video of the mechanism) here at the U or R

How the stem cell capture works- Selectins:

When King was working at the University of Pennsylvania from 1999 to 2001, one of his labmates discovered that bone marrow stem cells stick to adhesive proteins called selectins more strongly than other cells — including blood cells — stick to selectins.  When King came to the University of Rochester in early 2002, he started studying the adhesion of blood cells to the vascular wall, the inner lining of the blood vessels.  During inflammation, the vascular wall presents surface selectins that adhere specifically to white blood cells.  These selectins cause the white blood cells to roll slowly along the vascular wall, seeking signals that tell them to crawl out of the bloodstream.  This is how white blood cells migrate to bacterial infections and tissue injuries.  King set out to find a way to duplicate this natural process.

How the tumor capture works

Another exciting application of King’s invention is filtering the blood for cancer cells and triggering their death, an innovative, new method to prevent the spread of cancer.  When someone has a primary cancer tumor, a small number of cancer cells circulates through the bloodstream.  In a process called metastasis, these cells are transmitted from the primary tumor to other locations in the body, where they form secondary, cancerous growths. 

As a cancer cell flows along the implanted surface, King’s device captures it and delivers an apoptosis signal, a biochemical way of telling the cancer cell to kill itself.  Within two days, that cancer cell is dead.  Normal cells are left totally unharmed because the device selectively targets cancer cells. 

The apoptosis signal is delivered by a molecule called TRAIL that coats the cancer-killing device.  Cancer cells have five types of proteins that recognize and bind to TRAIL, but only two trigger cell death.  The other three are called decoy receptors.  Healthy cells contain a lot of decoy receptors, giving them a natural protection against TRAIL, whereas cancer cells mainly express the two receptors that signal cell death.


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