unique biomarkers hiding in plain sight

X-ZELL’s research revolves around the detection of tumour-derived Circulating Endothelial Cells (tCEC), a new type of biomarker that can not only pinpoint earliest-stage cancers, but also distinguish between aggressive and non-aggressive disease.

tCEC are responsible for the development of our world-unique rare cell detection technology and could hold the key to achieving X-ZELL’s bold vision of reducing the death toll caused by undetected cancer to zero.


Recent research has demonstrated that tumours as small as 1-2mm aggressively grow blood vessels to increase in size. tCEC are shed directly from these chaotically growing vessels into the host circulation – theoretically making them a textbook biomarker for early disease. But because they carry many common blood cell markers and hardly any specific cancer cell surface markers that would distinguish them from normal blood cells, the consensus has long been that they are simply too hard to find in routine laboratories. X-ZELL is the first company to “crack the code” and manage to rapidly and reliably detect CEC in a routine setting.


X-ZELL cracked the tCEC code by designing a suite of highly specialised are cell detection technologies, including our soon-to-be-launched Cryoimmunostaining™ Suite. Based on the principle of negative selection – think of it as removing the proverbial haystack as opposed to locating the needle – they cover the complete workflow from cell separation and fixation through to staining and sample preservation. That way we are capable of detecting a single cancer cell among up to 50 billion blood cells while keeping both cell morphology and RNA intact for downstream analysis.


X-ZELL recently completed the first prospectively blinded screening study investigating whether a tCEC-based screening assay could distinguish between men with and without clinically significant prostate cancer (csPCa). Based on the well established correlation between angiogenesis and tumour growth, it argues that the presence of tCEC may not only be associated with the presence of the disease, but that tCEC are in fact prognostic in nature as the microvessel density (MVD) in prostatectomies was found to correlate with Gleason score.

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X-ZELL Publications

Bhakdi et al. Accuracy of Tumor-derived Circulating Endothelial Cells as a Screening Biomarker for Clinically Significant Prostate Cancer. Cancers, 2019

Bhakdi et al. Navigating the Diagnostic Grey zone with tCEC (Poster). Asia-Pacific Prostate Cancer Conference, 2018

Bhakdi et al. Navigating the Diagnostic Grey zone with tCEC (Abstract). BJU International, 2018

Bhakdi et al. Easy Employment and Crosstalk-Free Detection of Seven Fluorophores in a Widefield Fluorescence Microscope. Methods & Protocols, 2018

Waseem et al. Buffer-Optimized High Gradient Magnetic Separation: Target Cell Capture Efficiency is Predicted by Linear Bead-Capture Theory. Journal of Magnetics, 2016

Waseem et al. Antibody-Conjugated Paramagnetic Nanobeads: Kinetics of Bead-Cell Binding. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 2014

Bhakdi et al. Optimized High-Gradient Magnetic Separation for Isolation of Plasmodium-infected Red Blood Cells. Malaria Journal, 2010



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