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Journal of Nanomaterials
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 831263, 10 pages
Research Article

Nanostructured Surfaces to Target and Kill Circulating Tumor Cells While Repelling Leukocytes

Department of Biomedical Engineering, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA

Received 19 November 2012; Accepted 5 December 2012

Academic Editor: Haiyan Li

Copyright © 2012 Michael J. Mitchell et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Hematogenous metastasis, the process of cancer cell migration from a primary to distal location via the bloodstream, typically leads to a poor patient prognosis. Selectin proteins hold promise in delivering drug-containing nanocarriers to circulating tumor cells (CTCs) in the bloodstream, due to their rapid, force-dependent binding kinetics. However, it is challenging to deliver such nanocarriers while avoiding toxic effects on healthy blood cells, as many possess ligands that adhesively interact with selectins. Herein, we describe a nanostructured surface to capture flowing cancer cells, while preventing human neutrophil adhesion. Microtube surfaces with immobilized halloysite nanotubes (HNTs) and E-selectin functionalized liposomal doxorubicin (ES-PEG L-DXR) significantly increased the number of breast adenocarcinoma MCF7 cells captured from flow, yet also significantly reduced the number of captured neutrophils. Neutrophils firmly adhered and projected pseudopods on surfaces coated only with liposomes, while neutrophils adherent to HNT-liposome surfaces maintained a round morphology. Perfusion of both MCF7 cells and neutrophils resulted in primarily cancer cell adhesion to the HNT-liposome surface, and induced significant cancer cell death. This work demonstrates that nanostructured surfaces consisting of HNTs and ES-PEG L-DXR can increase CTC recruitment for chemotherapeutic delivery, while also preventing healthy cell adhesion and uptake of therapeutic intended for CTCs.