NanoFlares for the detection, isolation, and culture of live tumor cells from human blood

Tiffany L. Halo, Kaylin M. McMahon, Nicholas L. Angeloni, Yilin Xu, Wei Wang, Alyssa B. Chinen, Dmitry Malin, Elena Strekalova, Vincent L. Cryns, Chonghui Cheng, Chad A. Mirkin, C. Shad Thaxton*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

146 Scopus citations


Metastasis portends a poor prognosis for cancer patients. Primary tumor cells disseminate through the bloodstream before the appearance of detectable metastatic lesions. The analysis of cancer cells in blood-so-called circulating tumor cells (CTCs)-may provide unprecedented opportunities for metastatic risk assessment and investigation. NanoFlares are nanoconstructs that enable livecell detection of intracellular mRNA. NanoFlares, when coupled with flow cytometry, can be used to fluorescently detect genetic markers of CTCs in the context of whole blood. They allow one to detect as few as 100 live cancer cells per mL of blood and subsequently culture those cells. This technique can also be used to detect CTCs in a murine model of metastatic breast cancer. As such, NanoFlares provide, to our knowledge, the first genetic-based approach for detecting, isolating, and characterizing live cancer cells from blood and may provide new opportunities for cancer diagnosis, prognosis, and personalized therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)17104-17109
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number48
StatePublished - Dec 2 2014


  • Cancer metastasis |
  • Diagnostic |
  • MRNA |
  • NanoFlares
  • Nanotechnology |

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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