Cancer is one of the top killers in Hong Kong and the other world. Conventional cancer diagnostics using invasive biopsy and/or positron emission tomography in hospitals is expensive and time-consuming. The counting of the circulation tumor cells (CTCs) in human blood has been shown to be one new possible way for cancer diagnostics. However, the concentration of CTC in comparison with the other blood cells is much lower (hundreds of cells per mL). CellSearchTM System (Veridex LLC, USA) has been approved for CTC analsys by US FDA. However, CTC analysis using CellSearch is very expensive. In recent years, there are two possible approaches for microfluidic chip to capture CTC: antibody-based and filtration according to cell sizes (typical CTCs are larger than blood cells). Multi-color immunofluorescence microscopy of the microfluidic elasto-filtration (MEF) chip usually generates large number of digital micrographs for CTC enumeratoin and the other statistical analysis of various cells. This project is to develop a computer program to achieve highly efficient and accurate CTC analysis for cancer diagnosis.
The student(s) will develop a computer program to analyze the fluorescence micrographs obtained from the multi-color fluorescence microscopy of microfluidic elasto-filtration (MEF) CTC chips for cancer diagnosis. The MEF CTC chips will be fabricated at HKUST Nanosystem Fabrication Facility. The program will perform the following tasks:counting of CTC/WBC and plot the histogram of CTC/WBC size, irregularity of the nulcear countour, irregularity of the chromatin, presence of a visible cytoplasm, etc.
1. Understand basic principle of microfluidics technology
2. Develop an understanding of cancer and CTCs
3. Develop an understanding of multi-color fluorescence microscopy for CTCs
4. Develop computational skills to design and analyze the digital fluorescence micrographs from MEF chips.
5. Develop and practice technical communication skill