Use of Magnetic Nanoparticles to Capture & Isolate Free-floating Cancer Cells

Most cancer deaths are not the direct result of primary tumors but to the metastatic spread of cancer cells to secondary sites. In ovarian cancer, metastasis is primarily due to the sloughing off of cancer cells from the primary tumor into the abdominal cavity and the consequent spread to the omentum and other exposed sites. Magnetic nanoparticles are functionalized with ligands designed to specifically attach to free floating ovarian cancer cells. The ultimate goal is to use these particles in an extra-corporal “dialysis-like” circuit in order to remove free-floating cancer cells and thereby reduce metastatic spread. The approach has been demonstrated to be highly effective in animal model systems (; The project is a collaboration between the laboratories of ICRC faculty members John Zhang (Biochemistry) and John McDonald (Biology).