Perspectives on the Functional Characterization and In Vitro Maintenance of Circulating Tumor Cells

Anthony Williams, Ramdane Harouaka, Siyang Zheng, Chris Albanese, Richard Schlegel, Yu Chong Tai, Ram H. Datar, Richard J. Cote

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Circulating tumor cells (CTCs) that detach and migrate from primary tumors are implicated in the metastatic spread of cancer. The identification of CTCs in peripheral blood samples has been associated with poor survival outcomes in various cancer types. As a readily accessible source of tumor tissue there is a vast potential to develop CTCs as a biomarker to advance cancer diagnosis, prognosis and the development of novel and targeted therapies. The fact that CTCs occur as extremely rare events in whole blood presents a technical challenge for characterization, requiring enrichment techniques that are both highly sensitive and sufficiently specific. The culture and expansion of CTCs is desirable as a means of yielding a population suitable for comprehensive functional characterization and drug testing. Reports of successful in vitro culture of CTCs are rare, but various approaches have been attempted and significant progress has been made. The development of protocols for reliable and efficient culture of viable CTCs will advance our biological understanding of cancer metastasis and facilitate the development of personalized therapies.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCurrent Cancer Research
PublisherSpringer Nature
Number of pages17
StatePublished - 2016

Publication series

NameCurrent Cancer Research
ISSN (Print)2199-2584
ISSN (Electronic)2199-2592


  • CTC Culture
  • CTC functional characterization
  • Chemoresponse
  • Circulating tumor cells (CTCs)
  • Personalized therapy


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