Research Papers:

This article has been corrected. Correction in: Oncotarget. 2019; 10:6643-6643.

Metabolic pathway for the universal fluorescent recognition of tumor cells

Ana Fernandez-Carrascal, Manuel Garcia-Algar, Moritz Nazarenus, Alicia Torres-Nuñez, Luca Guerrini, Neus Feliu, Wolfgang J. Parak, Eduardo Garcia-Rico _ and Ramon A. Alvarez-Puebla

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Oncotarget. 2017; 8:76108-76115. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.18551

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Ana Fernandez-Carrascal1,*, Manuel Garcia-Algar1,*, Moritz Nazarenus1, Alicia Torres-Nuñez1, Luca Guerrini1, Neus Feliu2,3, Wolfgang J. Parak3, Eduardo Garcia-Rico4 and Ramon A. Alvarez-Puebla1,5

1Department of Physical Chemistry and EMaS, Universitat Rovira i Virgili, Tarragona, Spain

2Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden

3Philipps-Universität Marburg, Fachbereich Physik, Marburg, Germany

4Department of Medical Oncology, Hospital Universitario HM Torrelodones, Torrelodones, Madrid, Spain

5ICREA, Barcelona, Spain

*These authors have contributed equally to this work

Correspondence to:

Eduardo Garcia-Rico, email: [email protected]

Ramon A. Alvarez-Puebla, email: [email protected]

Keywords: circulating tumor cells, breast cancer, optical sensing, glucose uptake, hyperoxia

Received: January 31, 2017     Accepted: June 05, 2017     Published: June 16, 2017


Quantification of circulating tumor cells (CTCs) in blood samples from cancer patients is a non-invasive approach to monitoring the status of the disease. Most of the methods proposed in the recent years are phenomenological and rely on the use of antibodies labelled with fluorophores, magnetic particles, or immobilized on surfaces to capture the CTCs. Herein, we designed and optimized a method that employs a glucose analogue labelled with a fluorophore which takes advantage of the different metabolic pathways of cancer cells to discern them from normal ones. Notably, we demonstrate that fluorescence signal in tumor cells can be greatly maximized by applying hyperoxia conditions without damaging the cells. These results are demonstrated by means of confocal fluorescence and flow-cytometry measurements in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) extracted after Ficoll of human blood samples and spiked with a known concentration of MCF-7 tumor cells.

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