For hundreds of years, scientists have studied the cell to understand biological function and disease progression. The Epic Sciences team took these basic studies in cell morphology and intracellular biomarker localization one step further. We have developed a platform that enables you to identify and analyze rare disease cells from a tube of blood that also contains millions of normal cells. It’s a revolutionary digital pathology technology that acquires high-definition images of each cancer cell found in a sample that empowers characterization at single cell resolution.
The Epic Sciences platform not only assesses the number of CTCs and CTC subtypes, but also profiles single cell phenotype and genotype:
Epic Sciences analyzes all nucleated cells in the blood sample. We do not sort or discard any nucleated cells. This non-biased approach ensures that no CTCs are left behind through the use of single parameter analysis.
Blood samples are shipped to our lab within 48 hours of the blood draw. When the samples are received, nucleated cells are dispensed as a monolayer on Epic Sciences’ proprietary glass microscope slides. Each slide holds three million nucleated cells, the equivalent of approximately 0.5mL of blood. Slides are then frozen and stored in the Epic Sciences biobank for future studies or may be tested directly.
Next, the slides are thawed and stained using the CTC base assay, which includes a cocktail of Cytokeratin (CK), CD45, DAPI and one or two characterization antibodies, such as a protein drug target. The slides are scanned on our whole slide fluorescent microscope.
Our digital pathology software analyzes the image files for a multitude of immunofluorescent and morphological features on all three million cells of each slide. (In some research studies, more than one slide per patient may be examined.) The hematopathology-trained algorithm incorporates numerous morphology measurements as well as expression from cytokeratin and CD45. It then proposes candidate CTCs which are confirmed by a trained reader.
If genomic analysis is needed, the coverslip is removed, and either FISH or NGS is performed. For FISH, each CTC is relocated. A trained reader scores the regional white blood cells to determine the negative control and does the same for the CTCs. Patient CTC counts are enumerated as CTCs/mL of blood, the percentage of CTCs expressing the biomarker and the results. For NGS analysis, the single cell of interest is picked from slide and relocated to an epitube where sequencing is performed.