A label free disposable device for rapid isolation of rare tumor cells from blood by ultrasounds

Itziar González, Julie Earl, Luis J. Fernández, Bruno Sainz, Alberto Pinto, Rosa Monge, Sonia Alcalá, Adela Castillejo, Jose L. Soto, Alfredo Carrato

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


The use of blood samples as liquid biopsy is a label-free method for cancer diagnosis that offers benefits over traditional invasive biopsy techniques. Cell sorting by acoustic waves offers a means to separate rare cells from blood samples based on their physical properties in a label-free, contactless and biocompatible manner. Herein, we describe a flow-through separation approach that provides an efficient separation of tumor cells (TCs) from white blood cells (WBCs) in a microfluidic device, "THINUS-Chip" (Thin-Ultrasonic-Separator-Chip), actuated by ultrasounds. We introduce for the first time the concept of plate acoustic waves (PAW) applied to acoustophoresis as a new strategy. It lies in the geometrical chip design: different to other microseparators based on either bulk acoustic waves (BAW) or surface waves (SAW, SSAW and tSAW), it allows the use of polymeric materials without restrictions in the frequency of work. We demonstrate its ability to perform high-throughput isolation of TCs from WBCs, allowing a recovery rate of 84%±8% of TCs with a purity higher than 80% and combined viability of 85% at a flow rate of 80 μL/min (4.8 mL/h). The THINUS-Chip performs cell fractionation with low-cost manufacturing processes, opening the door to possible easy printing fabrication.

Original languageEnglish
Article number129
Issue number3
StatePublished - 15 Mar 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 by the authors.


  • Low-cost
  • Microfluidics
  • Plate acoustic waves
  • Tumor cell isolation
  • Ultrasounds


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