A research team led by Seungpyo Hong, who serves as Assistant Professor of Biopharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Illinois at Chicago has developed a highly sensitive biomimetic surface utilizing the anti-epithelial cell adhesion molecule called aEpCAM and the dendrimers of seventh-generation polyamidoamine called PAMAM to remove circulating cancer cells from the blood.
The technology employed is known as biomimicry, a process of producing synthetic surfaces similar to that in real cells using nanotechnology. The biomimetic surface is capable of enabling multivalent binding by which numerous molecules can be concurrently bonded with many receptors in a biological system.
Tumor cells can separate from a main tumor and circulate all along the bloodstream, causing the development of new tumor sites. The count of circulating cancer cells, which are rare and hard to trap, is few in the bloodstream. During the study, the research team utilized three breast cancer cell lines as circulating tumor cell models to study the dendrimer surfaces’ cell adhesion to a polyethylene glycol (PEG) linear polymer, a widely used material for molecular bonding to enhance the efficiency and safety of drugs.
Hong stated that the nano-scale PAMAM dendrimers were selected for its capability to house large number of anti-epithelial cell adhesion molecules due to their surface dimension, spherical architecture and size. This capability allowed the multivalent binding in addition to ‘cell rolling,’ a physiological process stimulated by E-selectin to imitate the process that attaches circulating cancer cells with the endothelia and to improve the sensitivity of the surface towards cancer cells.
The research team’s biomimetic surface has exhibited a binding strength million times higher than that of aEpCAM-coated PEG surface, while its detection efficiency is seven times higher than that of the PEG surface.