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Blood test able to spot single cancer cell among billions of healthy ones gets big boost

The test uses a microchip that resembles a lab slide covered in 78,000 tiny posts, like bristles on a hairbrush. Read more here.

PNAS Early Edition / AP

This undated image provided by PNAS Early Edition shows a circulating tumor cell cluster isolated using the HB-Chip from the blood of a patient with metastatic prostate cancer. The blood test which is so sensitive that it can spot a single cancer cell lurking among a billion healthy ones is moving one step closer to being available at your doctor's office. Boston scientists who invented the test and health care giant Johnson & Johnson will announce Monday, Jan. 3, that they are joining forces to bring it to market. Four big cancer centers also will start studies using the experimental test this year.

PNAS Early Edition / AP

This undated image provided by PNAS Early Edition shows the HB-Chip. The herringbone pattern of interior surfaces in the chip brings more circulating tumor cells into contact with the antibody-coated capture surfaces. The inset shows the uniform blood flow through the device.