Circulating tumor cell cluster on microfluidic device
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Circulating Tumor Cell (CTC) Cluster I (H. sapiens)

Cricetulus griseus

Magnification: 1’100:1

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Artistic coloration of a human circulating tumor cell cluster, isolated from the blood of a patient with cancer using a microfluidic device, by Martin Oeggerli (Micronaut).

Circulating tumor cells are cancer cells that detach from the primary tumor and enter the blood circulation, on their way to initiate a metastasis at a distant site. When traveling in the blood as clusters, circulating tumor cells are endowed with an extraordinary potential to efficiently initiate a metastasis. While very rare compared to blood cells in the bloodstream (1 circulating tumor cell per billion blood cells), capturing of circulating tumor cell clusters is now possible through the use of specialized microfluidic technologies, thus enabling scientists to study their biology and vulnerabilities.