© 2016 Vila et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. Circulating tumour cells (CTCs) play a key role in the metastasis process, as they are responsible for micrometastasis and are a valuable tool for monitoring patients in real-time. Moreover, efforts to develop new strategies for CTCs isolation and characterisation, and the translation of CTCs into clinical practice needs to overcome the limitation associated with the sole use of Epithelial Cell Adhesion Molecule (EpCAM) expression to purify this tumour cell subpopulation. CTCs are rare events in the blood of patients and are believed to represent the epithelial population from a primary tumour of epithelial origin, thus EpCAM immunoisolation is considered an appropriate strategy. The controversy stems from the impact that the more aggressive mesenchymal tumour phenotypes might have on the whole CTC population. In this work, we first characterised a panel of cell lines representative of tumour heterogeneity, confirming the existence of tumour cell subpopulations with restricted epithelial features and supporting the limitations of EpCAM-based technologies. We next developed customised polystyrene magnetic beads coated with antibodies to efficiently isolate the phenotypically different subpopulations of CTCs from the peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) of patients with metastatic cancer. Besides EpCAM, we propose Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor (EGFR) as an additional isolation marker for efficient CTCs detection.
Vila, A., Abal, M., Muinelo-Romay, L., Rodriguez-Abreu, C., Rivas, J., López-López, R., & Costa, C. (2016). EGFR-based immunoisolation as a recovery target for low-EpCAM CTC subpopulation. PLoS ONE, 11(10). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0163705