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8/30/2009 10:06:45 AM
Nanoparticles Detect and Profile Cancer Cells Rapidly

Using a new type of paramagnetic nanoparticle and a nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) system built into a microfluidic device, a team of investigators at the Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School has created an assay system capable of detecting as few as two cancer cells in 1 microliter of biological fluid. In addition, the new assay requires little sample processing and produces results in less than 15 minutes.

Reporting its work in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, a research team led by Ralph Weissleder, M.D., Ph.D., co-principal investigator of the MIT-Harvard Center of Cancer Nanotechnology Excellence, describes the methods it developed to create a small but highly magnetic nanoparticle. The new nanoparticle is built around an iron-manganese core and is coated with a small, biocompatible organic molecule to render it soluble in water. This coating also provides attachment points to which the investigators added one of three different monoclonal antibodies, each of which recognizes a specific cancer biomarker.

The investigators also detailed their construction of a microfluidic NMR probe that dramatically improves on the signal-to-noise performance of an earlier probe they had developed. By improving the signal-to-noise properties of their detector, the investigators were able to reduce the sample volume needed for analysis to 1 microliter and increase mass-detection sensitivity by tenfold.

To test their device, the researchers used fine-needle aspirates from human tumors growing in mice as the biosample. Upon obtaining the biosample, the investigators added antibody-labeled magnetic nanoparticles, let them incubate for 5 minutes, washed the aspirates to remove excess nanoparticles, and then injected them into the microfluidic device. Using one antibody-labeled probe, the results were far from optimal, missing as many as 72% of the cancer cells in the sample. However, adding a second antibody-labeled nanoparticle reduced the false-negative rate to 28%, and adding the third antibody-labeled nanoparticle dropped the false-negative rate to almost zero.

This work, which is detailed in the paper “Rapid detection and profiling of cancer cells in fine-needle aspirates,” was supported by the NCI Alliance for Nanotechnology in Cancer, a comprehensive initiative designed to accelerate the application of nanotechnology to the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer. An abstract is available at the journal’s Web site.

View abstract

Other Headlines from Harvard University ...
 - Engineers create vibrant colors in vertical silicon nanowires
 - Hand-held NMR Instrument Yields Rapid Analysis of Human Tumors
 - Oxford Nanopore announces licence agreement with Harvard University for graphene DNA sequencing
 - What ultra-tiny nanocircuits can do
 - Clay-armored bubbles may have formed first protocells

Other Headlines from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) ...
 - Hand-held NMR Instrument Yields Rapid Analysis of Human Tumors
 - Growth-factor-containing nanoparticles accelerate healing of chronic wounds
 - Novel Chemistry Amplifies Ability of Nanoparticles to Detect Rare Cells
 - Nanoparticles Detect and Profile Cancer Cells Rapidly
 - Circulating tumor cells can reveal genetic signature of dangerous lung cancers

Other Headlines from NCI Alliance for Nanotechnology in Cancer ...
 - Tekmira and the National Cancer Institute Publish Promising Data Demonstrating the Anti-Tumor Activity of a Novel Cancer Target
 - NCI Awards $1.7 Million to Cancer Specialist at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles
 - Nanoparticles Enhance Detection of Circulating Tumor Cells
 - Hand-held NMR Instrument Yields Rapid Analysis of Human Tumors
 - Biodegradable Biopolymer Nanoparticles Hold Promise for Twin Attack on Breast Cancer

More Bio/Medicine Headlines ...
 - Researchers create nanopatch for the heart
 - Scientists Design New Anti-Flu Virus Proteins Using Computational Methods
 - New X-ray method for understanding brain disorders better
 - Nanomedicine: Loading up a cure
 - CEA-Leti and 5 Partners Collaborating On Self-Powered Cardiac Pacemaker

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