The non-invasive detection of leukemia could enable clinicians both to treat this disease earlier in its development and to monitor residual disease, thus improving overall prognosis of leukemia patients. Leukemia can be detected most directly by collecting a biopsy of the patient’s bone marrow. However, this surgical procedure is expensive and invasive, and is unsuitable for the long-term management of leukemia. A non-invasive alternative to bone marrow biopsy would involve sampling the patient’s blood to detect myeloid blast cells, which are leukemia cells that have been released from the bone marrow and have entered the circulatory system. Unfortunately, existing methods such as flow cytometry are not sensitive enough to detect rare blast cells in patients that have minimal residual disease. For leukemia patients with minimal residual disease, an effective non-invasive method to detect rare blast cells in the blood could prevent cancer relapse and improve quality of life.
The present invention can isolate and concentrate rare blast cells from liquid biopsies using a novel closed-loop microfluidic technique to monitor leukemia patients and improve therapeutic success.