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A comparative study on EpCAM antibody immobilization on gold surfaces and microfluidic channels for the detection of circulating tumor cells

Cetin, Didem
Okan, Meltem
Bat, Erhan
Külah, Haluk
Detection of circulating tumor cells (CTCs) from the bloodstream holds great importance to diagnose cancer at early stages. However, CTCs being extremely rare in blood makes them difficult to reach. In this paper, we introduced different surface modification techniques for the enrichment and detection of MCF-7 in microfluidic biosensor applications using gold surface and EpCAM antibody. Mainly, two different mechanisms were employed to immobilize the antibodies; covalent bonding and bioaffinity interaction. Self-assembled monolayers (SAMs) formed on the gold surfaces were treated further for the immobilization of the antibody. The bioaffinity-based studies were performed with streptavidin and biotinylated EpCAM over the SAM coated surfaces. The cell attachment events were monitored using fluorescent microscope. Comparisons were made considering the length and functional end of alkanethiols and the positioning of the antibody. Then, these methods were integrated into a microfluidic channel system. Surface characterizations were performed with X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy, Atomic Force Microscopy, and contact angle measurements. The selectivity studies were carried out with EpCAM negative K562 leukaemia cell lines and the experiments were repeated for different types of surfaces, such as glass and polymer. Studies showed that long (n > 10) and aromatic ring containing alkanethiols lead to better cell capture events compared to shorter ones. Results obtained from the comparisons are of importance for the gold surface-based microfluidic biosensor designs aimed for CTC detection.