MIRACLE project launched to develop lab-on-chip for cancer diagnosis
3 Sept 2010
The EU funded MIRACLE project, launched on 1 September, aims
to develop an operational lab-on-chip for the isolation and detection of
circulating and disseminated tumour cells (CTCs and DTCs) in blood.
The lab-on-chip technology is seen as an essential step towards
faster and cheaper diagnosis of cancer.
Detection of circulating and disseminated tumour cells in blood
is a promising methodology to diagnose cancer dissemination or to
follow up cancer patients during therapy.
At the moment, the detection analyses of these cells are
performed in medical laboratories requiring labour intensive,
expensive and time-consuming sample processing and cell isolation
steps. A full tumour cell detection analysis can take more than a
day. A lab-on-chip, integrating the many processing steps, would
enable a faster, easy-to-use, cost-effective detection of tumour
cells in blood. They are therefore labour-saving and minimally
invasive, increasing the patient’s comfort and the efficiency of
Schematic illustration of the envisaged
MIRACLE smart miniaturized system with integrated microfluidic
cartridges to enable tumour cell characterization and counting
directly from clinical samples. Credit: Institut für Mikrotechnik Mainz.
(text in image clockwise from top right: Cell isolation module
with active sieve; Multiplex DNA amplification; Clinical sample
inlet; DNA detection electrodes; Buffer reservoirs)
In a preceding joint project involving some of the partners
(MASCOT, funded under the EU 6th Framework Programme FP6-027652),
individual microfluidic modules for cell isolation, cell counting,
DNA amplification and detection have been developed. Based on this
expertise and strengthened by additional partners, the development
of a fully automated, lab-on-chip platform to isolate, count and
genotype CTCs is envisaged within the framework of the MIRACLE
For genotyping, genetic material (eg mRNA) will be extracted from
the cells and multiple cancer-related markers will be amplified
based on multiplex ligation dependent probe amplification (MLPA)
followed by their detection using an array of electrochemical
Full integration of all steps requires innovative research and
processing steps that need a combination of the multidisciplinary
and unique expertise of the different project partners (ranging from
microfluidics to interfacing, miniaturization, and integration
skills). The resulting lab-on-chip tumour detection system will be
well ahead of the current state-of-the-art, revolutionizing cancer
diagnostics and individualized theranostics.
The MIRACLE project members consist of: imec as project
co-ordinator, the Universitat Rovira I Virgili (Spain), the Institut
für Mikrotechnik Mainz, AdnaGen, ThinXXs and Consultech (Germany),
MRC Holland (The Netherlands), the Oslo University Hospital
(Norway), the KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Multi-D and
Fujirebio Diagnostics (Sweden), ECCO — the European Cancer
Organisation and ICsense (Belgium) and Labman (UK).
The project aims at developing a fully automated and integrated
microsystem providing the genotype (gene expression profile) of CTCs
and DTCs starting from clinical samples. MIRACLE is partly funded by
the European Commission 7th Framework Programme (FP7-ICT-2009.3.9).
More information on the project is available at: