Nano-technology uses virus' coats to fool cancer cells

February 17, 2012

While there have been major advances in the detection, diagnosis, and treatment of tumors within the brain, brain cancer continues to have a very low survival rate in part to high levels of resistance to treatment. New research published in BioMed Central's open access journal Journal of Nanobiotechnology has used Sendai virus to transport Quantum Dots (Qdots) into brain cancer cells and to specifically bind Qdots to epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) which is often over-expressed and up-regulated in tumors. By molecular-labeling cancer cells this nanoparticle technology could be used to aid diagnosis.

Qdots are tiny fluorescent particles, smaller than a virus, and over 1000 times smaller than a cell, which can be linked to , such as antibodies. Once linked, the fluorescence would make it easy to find which cells contain the protein the antibody recognizes, and where in the cell this protein is located. However there have been problems getting the Qdots into cells without them clumping, or being packaged in to endosomes, and excreted from the cells as waste.

Researchers from the City College of New York have overcome this problem by coating the Qdots in lipid and protein coats based on Sendai virus. Prof Maribel Vazquez explained, "While cells have complex defense mechanisms to protect themselves against attack, viruses have evolved ways to fool the cell into letting them in. We were able to exploit these mechanisms by fusing inactivated mouse parainfluenza virus with liposomes containing Qdots. The Qdots were in turn attached to an antibody against EGFR. So, once inside the cell, the Qdot-antibody complexes were able to bind to the receptor and the amount of bound complex could be monitored by measuring Qdot fluorescence."

This study looked at the level of EGFR as a marker for cancer but the Qdots could be attached to any antibody. Antibody-Qdot sets would allow rapid identification of different , determine potential chemotherapy resistance, and lead a more individualized treatment plan.

Explore further: Researchers detail the evolution of quantum dot imaging in the journal Science

More information: Sendai Virus-based Liposomes Enable Targeted Cytosolic Delivery of Nanoparticles in Brain Tumor-Derived Cells Veronica Dudu, Veronica Rotari and Maribel Vazquez. Journal of Nanobiotechnology (in press)

Related Stories

Researchers Assess the Evolution of Quantum Dot Imaging

February 3, 2005

The evolution over the last two decades of the nanocrystals known as quantum dots has seen the growth of this revolutionary new tool from electronic materials science to far-reaching biological applications that will allow ...

Nanosize Rods Light Up Pancreatic Cancer Cells

April 18, 2008

Quantum dots have shown promise as ultrabright contrast agents for use in a variety of cancer imaging studies. Now, a team of investigators at the Multifunctional Nanoparticles in Diagnosis and Therapy of Pancreatic Cancer ...

'Dark Pulse Laser' produces bursts of... almost nothing

June 9, 2010

In an advance that sounds almost Zen, researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology and JILA, a joint institute of NIST and the University of Colorado at Boulder, have demonstrated a new type of pulsed ...

UCF nanotechnology may speed up drug testing

December 19, 2011

Testing the effectiveness of new pharmaceuticals may get faster thanks to a new technique incorporating quantum dots developed at the University of Central Florida.

Recommended for you

Gold nanomembranes resist bending in new experiment

October 9, 2015

The first direct measurement of resistance to bending in a nanoscale membrane has been made by scientists from the University of Chicago, Peking University, the Weizmann Institute of Science and the Department of Energy's ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.