Cancer therapies that are gone with the Wnt

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Science  18 Sep 2015:
Vol. 349, Issue 6254, pp. 1283-1284
DOI: 10.1126/science.aad2448

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The isolation and molecular characterization of circulating tumor cells (CTCs) to guide cancer therapy is a particularly attractive approach for men with metastatic prostate cancer where the primary tumor may have been removed years earlier and the only indication of disease progression may be a rising amount of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) in the blood and a worsening bone scan (the skeleton is commonly the first area of metastasis for this cancer). Consequently, numerous technologies to capture, isolate, and study prostate cancer CTCs have been developed, each with its own limitations. Because of CTC heterogeneity, isolation approaches that rely on cell surface protein expression may not identify the prostate cancer cells undergoing epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (which contributes to the migratory capacity and invasiveness of CTCs) (1). On page 1351 of this issue, Miyamoto et al. (2) report on the use of a microfluidic device that enables the capture of live CTCs amenable to single-cell molecular characterization (3). The study reveals a possible mechanism underlying the resistance of certain prostate cancer patients to androgen-targeted therapies.