The presence of circulating tumor cells (CTCs) is believed to lead to the formation of secondary tumors via an adhesion cascade involving interaction between adhesion receptors of endothelial cells and ligands on CTCs. Many CTCs express sialylated carbohydrate ligands on their surfaces that adhere to selectin protein found on inflamed endothelial cells. We have investigated the feasibility of using immobilized selectin proteins as a targeting mechanism for CTCs under flow. Herein, targeted liposomal doxorubicin (L-DXR) was functionalized with recombinant human E-selectin (ES) and polyethylene glycol (PEG) to target and kill cancer cells under shear flow, both when immobilized along a microtube device or sheared in a cone-and-plate viscometer in a dilute suspension. Healthy circulating cells such as red blood cells were not targeted by this mechanism and were left to freely circulate, and minimal leukocyte death was observed. Halloysite nanotube (HNT)-coated microtube devices immobilized with nanoscale liposomes significantly enhanced the targeting, capture, and killing of cancer cells. This work demonstrates that E-selectin functionalized L-DXR, sheared in suspension or immobilized onto microtube devices, provides a novel approach to selectively target and deliver chemotherapeutics to CTCs in the bloodstream.
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