The removal of rare tumor cells circulating in the blood might be possible with the use of biomolecules bound to dendrimers, highly branched synthetic polymers, which could efficiently sift and capture the diseased cells, according to new research at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Dendrimers have been used to encapsulate drug molecules and serve as a delivery vehicle, but in the new study they were employed to capture circulating tumor cells by biomimicry -- using nanotechnology to create artificial surfaces much like those in real cells.
"We want to take advantage of what nature gives us," says Seungpyo Hong, lead researcher of the study, published in the journal Angewandte Chemie. "We want to create new biomimetic surfaces that will allow us to remove damaged cells from the blood."
Hong, assistant professor of biopharmaceutical sciences at UIC, and his coworkers created a highly sensitive surface that enables multivalent binding -- the simultaneous binding of many molecules to multiple receptors in a biological system. The biomimetic surface was created using dendrimers of seventh-generation polyamidoamine, or PAMAM, and the anti-epithelial cell adhesion molecule, or aEpCAM.
In the body, cancer cells can detach from a primary tumor and flow throughout the bloodstream, enabling them to seed distant new tumors. Rare and difficult to capture, only a few circulating tumor cells can be found in a milliliter of blood in a cancer patient. By comparison, the same volume of blood contains several million white blood cells and a billion red blood cells, Hong said.
Three breast cancer cell lines were used as circulating tumor cell models, with each used to compare the cell adhesion of the dendrimer surfaces to a linear polymer of polyethylene glycol. PEG is commonly used to bind molecules to improve the safety and efficiency of therapeutics.
The nano-scale PAMAM dendrimers were chosen because their siz
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University of Illinois at Chicago