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Imaging cancer metastasis using aptamer-functionalized silica nanoparticles

Aptamer-functionalized silica nanoparticles could be used to image tumor metastasis. Silica nanoparticles with a diameter of 20 nm were conjugated to a 26-nucleotide DNA aptamer designed to bind nucleolin, which is overexpressed and exposed on the surface of some cancer cells. In mice with breast cancer cells, interstitial injection of the nanoconjugate led to about a twofold increase in PET signal in lymph nodes carrying metastasized tumors compared with in normal lymph nodes. Next steps include improving the signal-to-noise ratio of the nanoconjugates and modifying the nanoparticles to deliver anticancer drugs.

SciBX 5(45); doi:10.1038/scibx.2012.1193
Published online Nov. 15, 2012

Patent application filed; available for licensing

Tang, L. et al. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed.; published online Nov. 7, 2012;
Contact: Jianjun Cheng, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, Ill.
Contact: Timothy M. Fan, same affiliation as above
Contact: William G. Helferich, same affiliation as above