Sensitive detection of circulating tumor cells (CTCs) from patients’ peripheral blood facilitates on-demand monitoring of tumor progression. However, clinically significant capture of renal cell carcinoma CTCs (RCC-CTCs) remains elusive due to their heterogenous surface receptor expression. Herein, a novel capture platform is developed to detect RCC-CTCs through integration of dendrimer-mediated multivalent binding, a mixture of antibodies, and biomimetic cell rolling. The nanoscale binding kinetics measured using atomic force microscopy reveal that dendrimer-coated surfaces exhibit an order of magnitude enhancement in off-rate kinetics compared to surface without dendrimers, which translated into cell capture improvements by ~60%. Selectin-induced cell rolling facilitates surface recruitment of cancer cells, further improving cancer cell capture by up to 1.7-fold. Lastly, an antibody cocktail targeting four RCC-CTC surface receptors, which included epithelial cell adhesion molecule (EpCAM), carbonic anhydrase IX (CA9), epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), and hepatocyte growth factor receptor (c-Met), improves the capture of RCC cells by up to 80%. The optimal surface configuration outperforms the conventional assay solely relying on EpCAM, as demonstrated by detecting significantly more CTCs in patients’ samples (9.8 ± 5.1 vs. 1.8 ± 2.0 CTCs mL). These results demonstrate that the newly engineered capture platform effectively detects RCC-CTCs for their potential use as tumor biomarkers.
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