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In pursuit of circulating tumour cells


A new research project aimed at developing more effective methods for detecting blood-borne cancer cells (CTCs), that have a propensity to metastasise is being started by Professor Anette Gjörloff Wingren.

At present, there are no available methods for the simple detection of cancer, such as a routine blood sample. Cancer is therefore usually only discovered when the patient seeks medical help following the onset of symptoms induced by the cancer. Unfortunately, there is a risk in that case that the treatment will be too late. The research will take place in collaboration with the Knowledge Foundation, which will also provide the necessary funding.                                                             

Anette Gjörloff Wingren“Before the cancer induces symptoms, cancer cells are often released into the blood. Improved detection methods for CTCs would make it possible to discover aggressive, difficult-to-treat cancer at an early stage with the aid of a routine blood sample,” said Anette Gjörloff Wingren. professor at the Department of Biomedical Science and at Biofilms – Research Center for Biointerfaces.

Increased knowledge of tumour cells 

Working with Phase Holographic Imaging, ImaGene-iT, Truly Translational, Lund University and Umeå University, Malmö University is set to embark on a research project aimed at developing better methods for detecting CTCs. With the aid of new, advanced methods, researchers hope to acquire increased knowledge of CTCs and the metastatisation process.

Greater potential for early detection of cancer 

“We will use fluorescent, molecularly imprinted polymers, MIPs, with specific recognition mechanisms for sialic acid. These will make it possible to detect and capture the tumour cells,” said Gjörloff Wingren.

Researchers will then analyse the physical and optical properties of the tumour cells with the aid of a 3D digital holographic microscope supplied by the company Phase Holographic Imaging. The research will take place in close collaboration with another research project, GlycoImaging.                                                              
“The long-term aim for both projects is to develop new clinical methods to detect cancer far earlier than is currently possible. The same methods could also be used in preclinical contexts,” said Peter Egelberg, CEO of Phase Holographic Imaging.

Text: Adrian Grist

Last updated by Amanda Malmquist