University of Delaware OEIP
University of Delaware

Fast, stable and marker-free CTC-detection chip in tumor diagnosis

Technology #ud17-39

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Dr. Bingqing Wei
Dr. Wei's research interest lies in nanomaterials and nanotechnology. His recent research focuses on controllable synthesis of macroscale nanotube architectures with 1-, 2-, and 3-dimensions; physical, chemical, electrochemical and mechanical property characterizations of nanotubes; and nanotube device applications.
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Tong Li
Xin Lu
Patent Protection

Provisional Patent Application Filed


This is a technology to better detect circulating tumor cells (CTCs) in cancer patients and treat the liquid biopsies to differentiate women at risk for the metastatic disease.


Statistics demonstrate that about 15 million people in the United States are affected with cancer today. The point at which the cancer breaks away from the primary tumor and begins to travel through the blood and into different areas of the body, survival rate may drastically drop. Thus, it is undoubtedly important to detect tumor cells at the earliest stages to quickly commence chemotherapy in order to treat and furthermore cure the disease. Current CTC isolation methods include physical screening of low cost but lack accuracy and biological methods that are limited by specific protein expressions on the tumor cells, which may not detect certain cancers. The intentional purpose of this CTC-isolation chip is to simplify the identification process using blood samples in order to accurately diagnose and optimize survival rate.


  •  Significant decrease in device fabrication cost
  • Higher accuracy than physical screening
  • Decrease in diagnosis complexity
  • Advantages in pain management
  • Provide the risk factor for metastasis at very early stage
  • Short detection/capture time (as little as 15 minutes)
  • Marker-free CTC-detection


Faculty at the University of Delaware have developed a potent CTC-isolation chip including a carbon nanotube sponge to detect the CTCs in blood with high efficiency, stability, specificity to CTCs. This is unique detection device that which considers all merits of others including fabrication cost, operation complexity, and high detect efficiency/specification. The carbon nanotube sponge is specifically designed to capture 20-30% of CTCs within 15 minutes and 80-90% within 60 minutes. The major innovation of this is the cutting-edge nanotechnology product of CNT sponge to capture the tumor cells from blood, not from within the body. This avoids pain and health hazards in the destruction of tumor cells, unlike previous methods.


Prototype has been developed and ongoing experiments/research continue.