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Improving sensitivity and specificity of capturing and detecting targeted cancer cells with anti-biofouling polymer coated magnetic iron oxide nanoparticles

Lin, Run, Li, Yuancheng, MacDonald, Tobey, Wu, Hui, Provenzale, James, Peng, Xingui, Huang, Jing, Wang, Liya, Wang, Andrew Y., Yang, Jianyong, Mao, Hui
Colloids and surfaces 2017 v.150 pp. 261-270
adhesion, adsorption, biofouling, blood, colloids, composite polymers, iron oxides, magnetic fields, metastasis, nanoparticles, neoplasm cells, neoplasms, polyethylene, transferrin
Detecting circulating tumor cells (CTCs) with high sensitivity and specificity is critical to management of metastatic cancers. Although immuno-magnetic technology for in vitro detection of CTCs has shown promising potential for clinical applications, the biofouling effect, i.e., non-specific adhesion of biomolecules and non-cancerous cells in complex biological samples to the surface of a device/probe, can reduce the sensitivity and specificity of cell detection. Reported herein is the application of anti-biofouling polyethylene glycol-block-allyl glycidyl ether copolymer (PEG-b-AGE) coated iron oxide nanoparticles (IONPs) to improve the separation of targeted tumor cells from aqueous phase in an external magnetic field. PEG-b-AGE coated IONPs conjugated with transferrin (Tf) exhibited significant anti-biofouling properties against non-specific protein adsorption and off-target cell uptake, thus substantially enhancing the ability to target and separate transferrin receptor (TfR) over-expressed D556 medulloblastoma cells. Tf conjugated PEG-b-AGE coated IONPs exhibited a high capture rate of targeted tumor cells (D556 medulloblastoma cell) in cell media (58.7±6.4%) when separating 100 targeted tumor cells from 1×10⁵ non-targeted cells and 41 targeted tumor cells from 100 D556 medulloblastoma cells spiked into 1mL blood. It is demonstrated that developed nanoparticle has higher efficiency in capturing targeted cells than widely used micron-sized particles (i.e., Dynabeads®).