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Dec 16, 2012, 08.10 PM IST | Source: PTI

Nanosystem to image tumour cells in bloodstream developed

Work by a team of Indian researchers, who have devised a new multi-component magnetic nanosystem to capture, detect and image circulating tumour cells (CTCs) in the bloodstream, has been highlighted in the latest issue of internationally acclaimed 'Nature India' magazine.

Work by a team of Indian researchers, who have devised a new multi-component magnetic nanosystem to capture, detect and image circulating tumour cells (CTCs) in the bloodstream, has been  highlighted in the latest issue of internationally acclaimed 'Nature India' magazine. The magazine is an international journal, with original, groundbreaking research spanning all scientific disciplines.

"This smart system was developed using transferrin (Tf) - an iron binding protein, iron oxide nanoparticles, a near infra red agent, and a dendrimer," Dr Jayant Khandare, who works with Piramal Healthcare Ltd said. "The nanosystem could be helpful in detecting metastatic cancer in which cancer cells spread to other parts of the body and reach the bloodstream from the organ of origin," he told PTI.

CTCs are a sign of metastatic cancer and it is very painstaking to isolate and estimate their number. Currently, no versatile detecting systems are available to capture cancer cells rapidly, delaying the early diagnosis and treatment. To develop a rapid CTC-detection technique, the researchers used Tf, to the nanosystem because many cancer cells over express Tf receptors. The nanosystem was incubated with human colon cancer cells that express Tf receptors on their membranes, to evaluate the efficacy of Tf-based magnetic nanosystem in capturing cancer cells.

The nanosystem could capture cancer cells within five minutes of exposure. In addition, the nanosystem selectively captured and isolated Tf containing colon cancer cells from a mixed population of colon cancer cells and human peripheral blood mononuclear cells within five minutes, even when the number of cancer cells was very small. Sophisticated fluorescence imaging demonstrated that the nanosystem was localised on the surface of cancer cells.

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