CTCs as Diagnostic Biomarkers for Pancreatic Cancer

CTCs as Diagnostic Biomarkers for Pancreatic Cancer

CTCs as Diagnostic Biomarkers for Pancreatic Cancer

Alfa Cytology's goal is to help our clients develop reliable biomarkers for the evaluation and management of pancreatic cancer (PC) based on our experienced scientists and advanced technology. Circulating tumor cells (CTCs) are shed into the blood and can be obtained relatively easily from minimally invasive liquid biopsies for serial analysis and characterization. As liquid biopsies, CTCs provide a useful tool that offers unique potential for early diagnosis, predicting disease prognosis, and monitoring treatment response.

Overview of CTCs

CTCs are cells that are shed from primary and secondary tumors and enter the bloodstream. Through surface antigen identification and single-cell genomic and gene expression analysis, CTCs offer multiple opportunities to determine their phenotypic origins. In addition, the isolation of viable CTCs allows a deeper understanding of an individual's tumor characteristics by culturing and characterization of live cells by ex vivo culture. The CTC-based liquid biopsy assays offer potential advantages, particularly the ability to perform downstream functional characterization. In general, the CTC-based liquid biopsy assays are characterized by high specificity and low signal-to-noise ratio.

Application of CTCs in PC

  • Diagnosis and early detection
  • Prognosis and recurrence
  • Chemotherapy response

The service offering at Alfa Cytology

CTCs may be the more accessible equivalent to tissue biopsy sampling. In addition, CTC analysis has the unique advantage that CTC can be used for functional analysis such as drug testing. CTC isolation and detection may serve as a crucial tool to complement other biomarkers for PC diagnosis and treatment monitoring. Based on our experienced scientists and advanced technologies, we can greatly advance the development of CTCs as biomarkers for PC diagnosis. We are capable of offering the following services, specifically:

  • CTC enrichment and isolation

The focus of CTC enrichment strategies is to increase the yield of captured tumor cells and to obtain CTCs with the highest possible purity. Since the rarity of CTCs in blood, our team of experts is utilizing new technologies and devices (such as microfluidic-and immunomagnetic-based strategies) to achieve CTC enrichment and isolation in a highly sensitive manner.

  • CTC identification
CTC identification

The main advantage of CTC over other liquid biopsy techniques is the detection of whole tumor cells. After CTC enrichment and isolation, the captured cells need to be validated. In addition to CTC counting, other markers are available for identification and characterization. We employ a series of techniques to identify CTCs, such as fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH), immunofluorescence (IF) staining, RT-PCR, targeted sequencing, and single-cell sequencing. Among them, advances in single-cell technologies will allow for comprehensive characterization of CTCs, leading to an in-depth understanding of CTC biology, PC metastasis, and tumor heterogeneity.

Alfa Cytology's PC diagnostic development services can greatly advance the development of reliable biomarkers for the evaluation and management of PC. If necessary, please feel free to contact us. Our professional and patient staff will contact you as soon as possible.


  1. Al-Shaheri, Fawaz N., et al. "Blood biomarkers for differential diagnosis and early detection of pancreatic cancer." Cancer Treatment Reviews 96 (2021): 102193.
  2. Yeo, Dannel, et al. "Exploring the Clinical Utility of Pancreatic Cancer Circulating Tumor Cells." International Journal of Molecular Sciences 23.3 (2022): 1671.
All of our services are intended for preclinical research use only and cannot be used to diagnose, treat or manage patients.