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Home > Press > Toxin-Nanoparticle Combo Inhibits Brain Cancer Invasion While Imaging Tumors

Abstract:
Working with a nanoparticle designed to target and image glioblastoma, a form of brain cancer, investigators at the University of Washington in Seattle have found that these same nanoparticles inhibit tumor cell invasion, one of the key events that leads to the metastatic spread of cancer. The investigators have also determined how the nanoparticles exert this potentially beneficial effect.

Toxin-Nanoparticle Combo Inhibits Brain Cancer Invasion While Imaging Tumors

Bethesda, MD | Posted on January 17th, 2009

Miqin Zhang, Ph.D., principal investigator of the Nanotechnology Platform for Pediatric Brain Cancer Imaging and Therapy project, and her colleagues had shown previously (click here and here to see earlier stories) that chlorotoxin, a small peptide toxin produced by the death stalker scorpion, is highly effective as a tumor-targeting agent when chemically linked to a variety of nanoparticles. In this work, whose results appear in the journal Small, Dr. Zhang's team linked chlorotoxin to magnetic iron oxide nanoparticles, which can act as tumor imaging agents in conjunction with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

When added to glioblastoma cells growing in culture, the chlorotoxin-targeted nanoparticles were rapidly taken up by the tumor cells. This internalization occurs when chlorotoxin binds to a surface protein known as MMP-2 that is overexpressed by many highly invasive tumors, including glioblastoma. As a consequence of nanoparticle binding and internalization, the amount of MMP-2 remaining on the surface of the tumor cells drops significantly, which greatly reduces the invasive properties of the treated cells.

Quantifying this effect, the investigators showed that the nanoparticle produced a 98% inhibition of cell invasiveness. By way of comparison, invasiveness fell by less than 50% when cells were treated with chlorotoxin alone.

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About National Cancer Institute
The NCI Alliance for Nanotechnology in Cancer is a comprehensive, systematized initiative encompassing the public and private sectors, designed to accelerate the application of the best capabilities of nanotechnology to cancer.

Currently, scientists are limited in their ability to turn promising molecular discoveries into benefits for cancer patients. Nanotechnology can provide the technical power and tools that will enable those developing new diagnostics, therapeutics, and preventives to keep pace with today’s explosion in knowledge.

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View abstract - “Inhibition of tumor-cell invasion with chlorotoxin-bound superparamagnetic nanoparticles.”

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