Isolating, interrogating and bioengineering single circulating cells
Signature Project

Project Leaders

Professor Justin GoodingProfessor Benjamin Thierry


Dr Stephen Parker, Dr Marnie Winter


The Project

The isolation of rare single circulating cells from biological samples, including blood, presents tremendous opportunities to not only advance the understanding of the molecular bases of diseases such as cancer but also to develop novel diagnostic modalities.
We are developing a range of technologies able to isolate, interrogate and bioengineer circulating cells, with a focus on:

  • Circulating tumour cells
  • Circulating fetal cells
  • Immune cells that can be harnessed for anti-cancer immunotherapy


The Big Questions

  • How can we understand the heterogeneity in cell populations and in particular rare cells such as circulating tumour cells?
  • This program aims to provide new tools for biomedical researchers to specifically capture rare cells and then be able to release individual cells of interest for further analysis such as genomic/transcriptomic/proteomic screening, cloning or single cell bioassays including the ability to form metastatic tumours. Such a technology will have implications for both fundamental research in understanding cell heterogeneity and in precision medicine where therapeutic strategies can be designed for the heterogeneity in the cells of a given patient.
  • Can genomic and transcriptomic testing of circulating fetal cells isolated from maternal blood provide a non-invasive prenatal diagnostic modality able to detect the full range of chromosomal abnormalities and single gene disorders that are the major reason for referral to fetal medicine units?


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