Using sound to separate cancer cells from blood samples

April 15, 2015

An acoustic tweezer device about the size of two pennies has two sound transducers and a channel for separation. Image: Tony Jun Huang, Penn State

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Separating circulating cancer cells from blood cells for diagnostic, prognostic and treatment purposes may become much easier using an acoustic separation method and an inexpensive, disposable chip, according to a team of engineers.

"Looking for circulating tumor cells in a blood sample is like looking for a needle in a haystack," said Tony Jun Huang, professor of engineering science and mechanics. "Typically, the CTCs are about one in every one billion blood cells in the sample."