Circulating tumor cells (CTCs) are cells that shed from a primary tumor and freely circulate in the blood, retaining the ability to initiate metastasis and form a secondary tumor in distant organs in the body. CTCs reflect the molecular profile of the primary tumor, therefore studying CTCs can allow for an understanding of the mechanism of metastasis, and an opportunity to monitor the prognosis of cancer. Unfortunately, the detection of CTCs is a considerable challenge due to their low abundance in the bloodstream and the lack of consistent markers present to recognize these cells. The aim of this review is to summarize some of the aptamer-based affinity methods for the detection of CTCs. The basic biological concept of how metastasis occurs and the role of CTCs in this process are presented. Some methods of CTC detection employing antibodies or peptides are mentioned here for comparison. The review of present literature suggests that aptamers are emerging as competitive technology in the detection of CTCs, especially due to their unique properties, but there still remain several challenges to be met, including the need to improve the throughput and sensitivity of such methods.

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Keywords aptamer, biomarker, biosensor, cancer, circulating tumor cell, diagnostic
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Journal Nucleic Acid Therapeutics
Hassan, E.M. (Eman M.), Willmore, W, & DeRosa, M.C. (2016). Aptamers: Promising Tools for the Detection of Circulating Tumor Cells. Nucleic Acid Therapeutics (Vol. 26, pp. 335–347). doi:10.1089/nat.2016.0632