We review the rare cancer cell sorting technologies, with a focus on multiscale immunomagnetic approaches. Starting from the conventional magnetic activated cell sorting system, we derive the scaling laws of immunomagnetic assay and justify the recent trend of using downscaled systems for CTC studies. Furthermore, we introduce recent work on combining the immunomagnetic assay with microfluidic technology for enhanced separation. We summarize different types of in-channel micro-magnetic structures that can further increase the local magnetic field without lowering the system throughput. Related design concepts, principles, and microfabrication techniques are presented and evaluated.
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