In Vivo Recognition of Human Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor by Molecularly Imprinted Polymers

Alessandra Cecchini, Vittoria Raffa (Lead / Corresponding author), Francesco Canfarotta, Giovanni Signore, Sergey Piletsky, Michael MacDonald, Alfred Cuschieri (Lead / Corresponding author)

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One of the mechanisms responsible for cancerinduced increased blood supply in malignant neoplasms is the overexpression of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). Several antibodies for VEGF targeting have been produced for both imaging and therapy. Molecularly imprinted polymer nanoparticles, nanoMIPs, however, offer significant advantages over antibodies, in particular in relation to improved stability, speed of design, cost and control over functionalization. In the present study, the successful production of nanoMIPs against human VEGF is reported for the first time. NanoMIPs were coupled with quantum dots (QDs) for cancer imaging. The composite nanoparticles exhibited specific homing toward human melanoma cell xenografts, overexpressing hVEGF, in zebrafish embryos. No evidence of this accumulation was observed in control organisms. These results indicate that nanoMIPs are promising materials which can be considered for advancing molecular oncological research, in particular when antibodies are less desirable due to their immunogenicity or long production time.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2307-2312
Number of pages6
JournalNano Letters
Issue number4
Early online date28 Mar 2017
Publication statusPublished - 12 Apr 2017


  • cancer imaging
  • composite nanoparticles
  • human vascular endothelial growth factor
  • Molecularly imprinted polymers
  • zebrafish embryos


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