Contact person:
Anette Gjörloff Wingren
Responsible at Malmö University:
Anette Gjörloff Wingren
Project members:
Time frame:
01 March 2017 - 28 February 2020
Research environment :

Improved diagnostics and treatment of aggressive cancer is one of the most challenging tasks in research today. Circulating tumour cells (CTC) can be found in patients with cancer metastases of epithelial origin, and prognostically, patients with higher number of CTCs detected in blood have a worse outcome. The emergence of advanced technologies to isolate circulating tumour cells from patient-derived blood now provides the opportunity to test and validate the understanding of the metastatic process. The fact that tumour cells produce increased levels of glycoconjugates containing sialic acid (SA), or Neu5Ac which is often associated with with poor prognosis, has led us to the development of fluorescent molecularly imprinted polymers (MIPs), or “plastic antibodies” with “specific” recognition sites for SA (SAMIPs). Indeed, there is an urgent need for diagnostic tools for analysing and determining SA glycosylation motifs in tumor cells, but reagents with discriminative power and sufficient affinities for specific and sensitive detection are generally missing.

In this project, the academic and industrial partners will work together for gaining knowledge to develop and providing tools for cancer diagnostics and strategies with applications towards the clinical market. Fluorescence analysis of cells binding SAMIPs will be performed using fluorescence microscopy and flow cytometry. Magnetic SA-specific MIPs will allow specific capture of the tumour cells with the help of magnetic columns. After the detection and capture of SA-expressing tumour cells, measurement of physical and optical tumour cell properties using the 3D digital holographic microscope will follow, enabling an enrichment of captured CTCs from blood samples by sorting out larger tumuor cells from smaller white blood cells.

The proposed study will gain cancer patients with CTCs suffering from the most aggressive and untreatable cancer forms that exist today. We aim to detect and capture CTCs in the blood, that otherwise would extravasate to secondary tissue and form metastases. By this, a faster and more proper treatment for the patient will occur, as well as better understanding of the behavior of the CTCs.