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Nanotech News

September 5, 2006

Targeting Buckyballs with Antibodies

Hollow buckyballs, spherical molecules made of sixty carbon atoms linked to one another like the panels of a soccer ball, have the potential to ferry large doses of anticancer drugs or imaging agents to tumors. A new method for attaching tumor-targeting antibodies to the surface of buckyballs could help turn this promise into reality.

Writing in the journal Chemical Communications, a research team headed by Lon Wilson, Ph.D., of Rice University, describes the chemical methods it developed to turn water-soluble fullerenes – the scientific name for buckyballs – into antibody-linked cargo containers for drugs and imaging agents. As a proof-of-principle, the researchers used an antibody that binds to protein found on the surface of melanoma cells. The investigators characterized the binding behavior of the resulting molecular combo, showing that the method they used to attach fullerenes to antibodies does not affect the ability of the antibodies to bind to their biological target, which presumably would be on the surface of cancer cells.

The researchers also found that they were able to attach as many as 15 fullerenes to a single antibody without changing the antibody’s target-binding properties. They note that the ability to attach multiple fullerenes to a single antibody could lead to the creation of multifunctional nanoscale devices that could deliver imaging agents and combinations of drugs to tumors.

This work is detailed in a paper titled, “Fullerene (C60) immunoconjugates: interaction of water-soluble C60 derivatives with the murine anti-gp240 melanoma antibody.” Investigators from the M. D. Anderson Cancer Center also participated in this study. An abstract of this paper is available through PubMed.
View abstract.