Research Highlight

The nPLEX chip loaded into the microarray spotting system. This technique allows for antibody conjugation on the nPLEX for exosome interaction testing. Source: MGH

Nano-plasmonic exosome (nPLEX) assays for exosome analysis and antibody validation

Exosomes are phospholipid nanovesicles secreted by mammalian cells that have recently been a topic of interest in cancer research and reports. These miniscule particles are released in large numbers by most types of cancers and often carry molecular information about the parent tumor cell: information that could be useful in diagnostic and tumor response to therapy situations. However, current methods of exosome analysis tend to be difficult to use in clinical settings where exosome concentration is low, or that require high throughput. A group of researchers at the Center for Systems Biology at Massachusetts General Hospital has recently developed a surface plasmon resonance (SPR) assay based on optical transmission through periodic nanoholes called the nano-plasmonic exosome (nPLEX) assay. This generation of the nPLEX sensor was designed for label-free detection of exosomes and validated across different ovarian cancer cell lines and ascites samples from ovarian cancer patients. A next generation nPLEX sensor is being created with the goal of establishing and validating the clinical utility of the sensor across a wide range of human cancers including glioblastoma multiforme, pancreatic, and ovarian cancer. One of the critical components in proteomic research, including exosome studies, is selecting the correct antibodies and validating their qualities in a high-throughput way. The affinity, specificity, reproducibility, and selectivity of antibodies tend to have some variation by many factors including vendor, clonality, target epitopes, species, and storage condition. Using microarray spotting technology, a protocol on high-throughput antibody validation will be established for nPLEX. Specifically, different antibodies (e.g. antibodies for CD63, a well known exosome surface marker) will be conjugated on the nPLEX chip using the microarray spotting system; antibodies will then be tested through exosome interactions. The antibody validation protocol is expected to reduce assay development costs and improve the accuracy of the nPLEX assays.



Trainee Research

CaNCURE provides trainees with a 6-month hands-on research experience and one-on-one mentoring by leading researchers in cancer nanomedicine.   Projects performed by current and past participants include:

Uptake and localization of nanoparticles in prostate and lung cancer cells as a function of time and nanoparticle type

Software with built-in neuroanatomy atlas provides insight into cancer treatment

Erythropoietin improves antitumor immune response through reversal of the hypoxic tumor microenvironment

Capture of circulating tumor DNA through the use of biotinylated poly-lysine affixed to gold nanoparticles

Clinical immunotherapy application in metastatic glioblastoma

Small T Antigen Effect on Mitotic Proteins B-Myb and FOXM1

Radiation enhancement in cancer cells using gold and gadolinium nanoparticles

Biological mechanisms of gold nanoparticle-enhanced radiation therapy of prostate cancer

Targeting WASp using Wiskostatin-gold nanoparticles

Assessment of neoadjuvant therapy-induced atherosclerotic changes using ferumoxytol-enhanced MR imaging

Development of PSMA-targeting nanoparticles for positron emitting tomography imaging in prostate cancer using animal models

Longitudinal assessment of tumor heterogeneity during immunotherapy for metastatic melanoma

Optimizing murine cells for in vitro modeling of high-grade serous ovarian cancer

Quantification of SPION accumulation in tumors using positive-contrast MRI

Development of a novel nanogel for non-invasive transdermal delivery of cancer vaccines using hyaluronic acid

Co-delivery of antibiotics and topoisomerase inhibitors to overcome chemoresistance

Protein-encapsulated nanoparticles for oral delivery of anti-mitotic agents in prostate cancer

The Assessment and Comparison of Ferumoxtran as Contrast Imaging Agent in Patients with Pancreatic Cancers.

Nanoencapsulation of tyrosine kinase inhibitors and their effects on pathway inhibition

Investigating the use of iron chelator deferoxamine (DFO)-bearing PEG-like nanoprobes as a multifunctional agent for cancer therapy and PET imaging

Identifying genomic and compound dependencies in undifferentiated sarcomas

Injectable thermogelling cisplatin-loaded hydrogels for combined chemo-radiation therapy in cervical cancer

Co-delivery of protective substrate and chemotherapy drugs via lipid Bilayer Mesoporous Silica Nanoparticles

Targeting CXCR4/SDF-1a using phytochemicals to inhibit progression and metastasis of pancreatic cancer

Radiotherapeutic synergism of thermogelling cisplatin-loaded polymers for cervical cancer treatment

Soleil Doggett (Biology, '16) talks to her fellow peers about her research on oxygenating tumors to stimulate the anti-tumor immune response.


Trainee e-portfolios

Photo credit: Tom Kates Photography

While on co-op, trainees document their research in an e-portfolio.  This gives trainees the opportunity to provide regular updates on their research progress, reflect on training they are receiving, and explain how their research fits within the field of cancer nanomedicine.  These research e-portfolios can be accessed through individual trainee profiles.  The complete collection may be found here.

Check out this month’s featured e-portfolios by Rachel Fontana and Jordan Harris!


Presentation at CaNCURE Nanomedicine Day

At the completion of their co-op, trainees are provided with the opportunity to present their research to a wider audience.  In our 1st annual CaNCURE Nanomedicine Day, trainees prepared interactive, digital posters to display on electronic poster boards.  Over 100 faculty, students, and researchers attended our first event!

Check out the news article and congrats to all the poster winners!

Jordan Harris: Most Innovative Cancer Research Award
Jeremy Thong: Best Undergraduate Research Poster Award
Craig Pille: Most Promising Translational Research Award
Bryan Kynnap: Most Promising Basic Science Award
Jordan Harris: Top Chemical Engineering Poster Award