Office of Technology Transfer – University of Michigan

Graphene Oxide-Based Circulating Tumor Cell Capture Device

Technology #5137

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Sunitha Nagrath
Managed By
Kristen Wolff
Patent Protection
US Patent Pending
US Patent Pending
US Patent Pending


The quantification of circulating tumor cells (CTC) present in the blood stream of metastatic cancer patients is a valuable tool for the early detection of the disease, its staging, as well as for the assessment of the patient’s response to their individual anti-cancer therapy. However, the process of quantitating CTCs is extremely challenging given the scarcity of these cells (1 for every ~ billion red blood cells). This makes the currently available assays and methods not sufficiently reliable and specific when it comes to early-stage CTC detection and precise quantitation.


Researchers at the University of Michigan have built upon previous technology – a microfluidic approach for CTC isolation and capture – and have demonstrated a highly reliable lab-on-a-chip CTC capture device. This microfluidics device utilizes the self-assembly of graphene oxide in a unique way in order to enhance the sensitivity and specificity of detection, making it very valuable tool for early-stage detection of metastatic cancer. In addition, this device can be used to obtain highly accurate readings of a patient CTC counts in order to optimize the patient’s individualized anti-cancer therapy.

Applications and Advantages


  • Early detection of metastatic cancer diseases.
  • Monitoring of patient’s response to anti-cancer therapies.
  • High-sensitivity and specificity tumor cell capture and isolation device.


  • Device fabrication is compatible with standard microelectronics and microfluidics technologies.
  • Offers higher sensitivity and specificity over current options.