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 develops several products can be derived from the SNT technology:
SNT is a laboratory equipment aiming at the isolation and the characterization of individual cells, organisms (parasites, viruses, etc.) and molecular fibers to perform fully automated electromechanical characterization.
This product is commercialized as an add-on equipment compatible with a microscope platform, or as a complete microscope characterization platform.
The Silicon Nano Tweezers (SNT) can easily be washed for sterilization or additional tweezers can be bought independently for application requiring further asepsis.
CellCet allows to immobilize single cells for electromechanical analysis. Several aspects are measured namely, the cell stiffness, membrane capacity, cytoplasmic conductivity, viscosity and size.
The platform comes with a database of mechanical properties and aims at automatically detecting cells with high metastatic potential based on their biophysical characteristics.
This method is label-free and can be used for early diagnostics, pharmacodynamics and the monitoring of recurrence in multiple different forms of cancer with solid tumors.