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Biomaterials. 2011 Dec;32(36):9758-65. doi: 10.1016/j.biomaterials.2011.08.076. Epub 2011 Sep 14.

Antibody conjugated magnetic iron oxide nanoparticles for cancer cell separation in fresh whole blood.

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State Key Laboratory of Food Science and Technology, Nanchang University, Nanchang 330047, PR China.


A highly efficient process using iron oxide magnetic nanoparticles (IO)-based immunomagnetic separation of tumor cells from fresh whole blood has been developed. The process involved polymer coated 30 nm IO that was modified with antibodies (Ab) against human epithelial growth factor receptor 2 (anti-HER2 or anti-HER2/neu) forming IO-Ab. HER2 is a cell membrane protein that is overexpressed in several types of human cancer cells. Using a HER2/neu overexpressing human breast cancer cell line, SK-BR3, as a model cell, the IO-Ab was used to separate 73.6% (with a maximum capture of 84%) of SK-BR3 cells that were spiked in 1 mL of fresh human whole blood. The IO-Ab preferentially bound to SK-BR3 cells over normal cells found in blood due to the high level of HER2/neu receptor on the cancer cells unlike the normal cell surfaces. The results showed that the nanosized magnetic nanoparticles exhibited an enrichment factor (cancer cells over normal cells) of 1:10,000,000 in a magnetic field (with gradient of 100 T/m) through the binding of IO-Ab on the cell surface that resulted in the preferential capture of the cancer cells. This research holds promise for efficient separation of circulating cancer cells in fresh whole blood.

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