To address the issue, Da Xing and co-workers at South China Normal University in Guangzhou, have combined the advantages of both SWNTs and integrin αvβ3 monoclonal antibody, a cancer cell specific targeting molecule, to develop a novel functional SWNT.

As shown in the figure above, the functional SWNT presented a high targeting efficiency on integrin αvβ3 -positive U87MG cells, while for integrin αvβ3 -negative MCF-7 cells the functional SWNT had a low targeting efficiency. In other words, the functional SWNTs can selectively recognize integrin αvβ3 -positive cancer cells with integrin αvβ3 monoclonal antibody, and afford no destruction of integrin αvβ3 -negative cancer cells and normal cells. As a result, the functional SWNT could open up exciting new venues for drug delivery and tumor targeting in cancer targeting therapy.

Further studies such as photoacoustic molecular imaging with integrin αvβ3 functionalized SWNTs in early tumour detection are now underway in our laboratory, although there is still a long way to go before the results could be adopted clinically.

The researchers presented their work in Nanotechnology.