Circulating epithelial tumour cells (CETCs) play an important role in the formation of metastases in breast cancer patients. The depletion of such CETCs from peripheral blood of breast cancer patients using non-specific separation (without antibodies) of tumour cells from normal blood leucocytes might contribute to reduce the load of the patient’s
blood with tumour cells and subsequently reduce the probability of metastasis formation. This method is based on cell type-specific interaction of living cells with Carboxymethyl Dextrane (CMD) coated magnetic nanoparticles. We have developed a mild flow separation method using CMD-coated magnetic nanoparticles (core size ca. 25 nm) along with a
low-field gradient magnetic separator and an external separation column (blood bag). The ability of tumour cells to preferentially bind such particles and to separate tumour cells from the white blood cells from blood samples of 25 breast cancer patients (fresh and 24-hour stored blood samples) were tested. The circulating tumour cells were quantified before and after separation by maintrac analysis. We achieved a very high depletion rate of tumour cells to < 3% remaining in the investigated 24 hours stored blood samples and ≤14% in all fresh blood samples concurrent with maintaining 56% ± 4% of vital leukocytes in all fresh blood samples.