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Review paper in APL Bioengineering journal highly cited in 2022

A review paper by Richard and Loan Hill Department of Biomedical Engineering Professor Ian Papautsky and his team was one of seven highly cited articles published in the APL Bioengineering journal for 2022.

The paper sought to review microfluidic technology and its developments for working with circulating tumor cells (CTCs). The paper discusses the advantages and challenges of the existing microfluidic technologies, and highlights the contributions for isolation, the formation and the characterization of CTCs and CTC clusters to expand research efforts.

An attractive aspect of the review paper, contributing to its high citation rate, is the outlook section that detailed the directions where technologies could go and the challenges of applying microfluidic technologies to study CTCs.

This section is “an important aspect and makes the paper attractive not just to engineers and designers, but to researchers and clinicians who want to use the technology,” Papautsky said. 

He also said that this paper could give other scientists ideas of where to aim their research.

Papautsky explained much of the published literature has focused on the design of microfluidic systems, however, his team chose to expand their research and include a discussion of properties and analysis of these rare circulating cells.

“We wanted to go beyond a summary of microfluidic device focused papers that other researchers have published,” Papautsky said.

More and more people are trying to develop these technologies and figure out how to use clusters and single CTCs within cancer and blood-related applications.

Papautsky and his team wanted to see what has already been developed for CTC clusters. They found that recently published literature was lacking important information.

“We felt that recent review papers from the last few years were lacking focus on CTCs clusters,” Papautsky said. “Most research has focused on building microfluidic systems for the isolation of single cells, yet in patient samples, we were seeing quite a few clusters as opposed to single cells.”

Papautsky and his team also felt that the discussion surrounding distinguishing single CTCs and CTC clusters has not been very prevalent before, which made their review paper more comprehensive.