John Garner

Triple-negative, metastatic breast-cancer targeted therapy developed using block polymers from PolySciTech

Blog Post created by John Garner on Jan 5, 2017

Although many forms of breast-cancer respond well to conventional therapies, aggressive triple-negative breast cancer remains difficult to treat. Recently researchers at University of Minnesota developed novel antibodies capable of targeting metastatic cells. The researchers used Maleimide-PEG-PLGA (PolyVivo# AI119) to allow for antibody conjugation to nanoparticles and PLGA-rhodamine conjugate (PolyVivo# AV011), both from PolySciTech (, to assist in nanoparticle tracking by fluorescence. This research holds promise to provide improved therapy for this lethal disease. Read more: Khanna, Vidhi Devendra. "Antibody Conjugated Nanoparticles for Targeting Metastatic Triple Negative Breast Cancer." PhD diss., UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA, 2016.


  “Abstract: Early detection and the availability of new treatments have improved the survival rates of patients presenting with local or regional breast cancer to as high as 99% and 85%, respectively. On the contrary, patients with metastatic disease have a dismal 5-year survival rate of 17%.1 Thus, there is an urgent need for treatment strategies directed towards metastasis. Our lab has developed antibodies (Clone 6 and AM6) capable of recognizing tumor cells that have undergone epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT), a key step in the generation of circulating tumor cells and metastasis. The goal of the current study was to determine whether we use these antibodies as targeting ligands for directing anticancer drug-loaded polymeric nanoparticles to metastatic triple negative breast cancer cells as a novel therapeutic option. Polymeric PLGA nanoparticles loaded with paclitaxel, a chemotherapeutic agent, were functionalized with the antibodies using thiol-maleimide chemistry. We optimized the conjugation reaction in order to achieve maximal cell uptake of nanoparticles without compromising antibody binding. In vitro studies were carried out in an MDA-MB-231 derivative cell line with enhanced lung metastatic potential as well as a melanoma metastatic cell line M12. Clone 6 nanoparticles and AM6 nanoparticles showed significant improvement in cellular uptake as well as retention. A competition experiment confirmed target-mediated uptake of nanoparticles. Cytotoxicity studies showed improved cell kill using Clone 6 nanoparticles and AM6 nanoparticles. Based on these promising in vitro results, we are currently carrying out in vivo studies in mice. The development of a targeted drug delivery system for the treatment of metastatic triple negative breast cancer can significantly enhance the survival rate for patients who often times have a life-expectancy of less than one year. Keywords: Antibody, Breast Cancer, Nanoparticles, Thiol-Maleimide”