A pair of nanotechnology-enabled devices that capture cells in the blood which have broken off from a tumour have been developed by researchers in the US.

Researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) have developed ways to capture cells that can provide critical information in diagnosing cancer metastasis, nanotechwire.com reports.

The UCLA device, EpCAM, is a 1cmx2cm silicon chip, which is covered with densely packed nanopillars coated with an antibody to capture circulating tumour cells (CTCs).

The UAMS team has produced a system that traps CTCs directly in the bloodstream, where they can then be removed by microsurgery or destroyed using a laser that does not harm the skin or other tissues.