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Sensing Cell Technology for Cancer Diagnostics

2 in 9 people

have an increased risk of developing a second primary cancer

The characterization of circulating tumor cells (CTC) in blood samples, also known as liquid biopsy methods, is currently a high potential technique for the early diagnosis of the metastatic colonization. The development of this method in the industrial scale will allow a much better follow up of the metastatic potential in patients in the remission phase, as well as the adaptation of the treatments.


This measurement is currently achieved by the means of very slow and expensive equipment. These techniques involve fluorescence microscopy and picture analysis of individual cells, or sorting and cell culture for further characterization.

The SENCET startup relies on the Silicon Nanotweezer (SNT) technology. The SNT technology is the result of a 10 year long research project carried out jointly by CNRS and IIS-University of Tokyo. The technique is based on the use of small sized tweezers able to immobilize single cells. These tweezers are made out of silicon and comprise a mechanical actuator to compress the cell, and a sensor to measure both the displacement of the actuator and the electrical properties of the immobilized cell.

The concept relies on the use of microtechnologies to measure the electrical and mechanical properties of individual cells. This type of measurement has been shown to allow the differentiation of normal cells and CTCs.


SENCET will develop several products can be derived from the SNT technology:


1. A first product will be a laboratory equipment aiming at the isolation and the characterization of individual cells. The isolation process will be manual or semi-automated, and the electro-mechanical characterization will be automated.

The product will take the form of an add-on equipment compatible with a microscope platform, or as a complete microscope + characterization platform. The Silicon Nano Tweezers (SNT) will be changed on a regular basis. They will be easy to  change. One part of the revenues will also come from the sales of the SNT sensor.This product will be sold in the short term, a market research is currently in progress.


2. We believe that the current characterization techniques involving fluorescent biomarkers will be very hard to integrate into a desktop measurement device that could be used in ambulatory environment. The very short measurement time characterized by the SNT technology could allow this kind of use case. A second product will consist in the integration of the SNT into a microfluidic platform. We believe that 30 min could be necessary for a titration of the Circulating Tumor Cells from a blood sample taken in ambulatory environment, with a measurement made on site. This product will be developed in the middle term (3-5 years), relying on the sales of the first product and the R&D capabilities of the Centre Oscar Lambret, SMMIL-E laboratory and IEMN.

To our knowledge, this product will be the first of its kind.





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