Singapore-based Clearbridge BioMedics, in collaboration with development firm Cambridge Consultants, has unveiled a new generation of cancer diagnostic devices.

Designed to improve cancer diagnosis and treatment monitoring, the new ClearCell FX system allows doctors to quickly separate circulating tumour cells (CTCs) in a patient’s bloodstream, thereby paving the way for a personalised medicine.

Using the novel inertia-focusing spiral microfluidics in the single-use CTChip FR, the system separates and isolates cells in a blood sample and thereby allowing for continuous label-free separation of CTCs from blood cells.

Due to biomechanical differences, the bigger and denser CTCs get separated from the other blood cells within the spiral biochip, and are then focused into an enriched cell stream, which are channelled and collected to be used for pathology diagnostic tests such as mutation testing for targeted therapies.

Cambridge Consultants diagnostics head John Pritchard said the technology will have a huge impact on a lot of people’s lives.

"Our systems engineering approach, coupled with our skills in fluidics, software and compliance, has enabled us to work quickly and efficiently with Clearbridge BioMedics – even though we are thousands of miles apart," Pritchard said.

Clearbridge BioMedics also collaborated with the National University of Singapore and the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART) Center.

The ClearCell FX system is designed for use in research as well as diagnostics applications, and the companies will seek regulatory approvals in the US and Europe.

Clearbridge BioMedics co-founder and managing director Johnson Chen said that once approved, it will be one of the world’s first label-free CTC enrichment systems for diagnostic use.

"Clearbridge BioMedics believes this system will be an ideal companion diagnostic system that complements various cancer therapies," Chen said.

A spin-off company from the National University of Singapore, Clearbridge BioMedics was founded in 2009.

Its first-generation ClearCell System, launched for the cancer research market in 2011, was one of the first non-biomarker-based systems commercially available to detect, isolate and retrieve CTCs from blood.

Image: ClearCell FX System allows doctors to quickly separate tumour cells circulating in a patient’s bloodstream, thereby paving the way for a personalised medicine. Photo: Courtesy of Cambridge Consultants.