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Counting Cells May Shed Light on How Cancer Spreads

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As tumors grow within an organ, they also release cells that enter the bloodstream. These cells can travel to other organs, seeding new tumors called metastases.

MIT engineers have now developed a technique that, for the first time, allows them to measure the generation rate of these circulating tumor cells (CTCs) in mice. Their approach, which also reveals how long CTCs survive once released into the bloodstream, could help scientists learn more about how different types of cancers spread through the body. “By exchanging blood between mice while counting CTCs in real-time, we obtained a direct measurement of how quickly CTCs enter the circulation and how long it takes before they’re cleared,” says Scott Manalis, the David H. Koch Professor of Engineering in the departments of Biological Engineering and Mechanical Engineering, a member of the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, and the senior author of the study.     . Read more . . . 

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