Project supported by Ministero degli Affari Esteri e Della Collaborazione Internazionale.
Partecipants: IMM-CNR and IPCB-CNR, Johns Hopkins University. Departments of Oncology, Radiology &Radiological Science and Mechanical Engineering
Project coordinator: Annalisa Convertino
Breast cancer is the most common malignant neoplasm and the second cause of cancer mortality in women. The majority of deaths are due to metastasis to other organs in the body. There is a growing consensus that primary breast tumor and metastatic lesions exhibit divergent expression of established biomarkers. Thus, metastatic lesions should be considered organ-specific lesions with dissimilar sensitivity to prescribed therapeutic regimens. Dissecting organ-specific metastatic cancers based on objective molecular markers, which would facilitate development of “smart” therapeutic alternatives, remains an outstanding challenge in oncology. The proposal aims to address those challenges by developing a nano-plasmonic platform for non-perturbative analysis of single live cells via Raman spectroscopy. This approach will permit the identification of new biomarkers for the recognition of organ-specific isogenic metastatic breast cancer cells, derived from organ-of-origin explants of brain, liver, lung, and spine (bone), and to study the impact of FDA approved oncological drugs on each of these cell lines. The platform will be based on nano-engineered materials able to enhance the Raman signal for ultrasensitive, in situ recognition of biomolecules in different milieu including in surfaces of live cells. The proposed nanomaterials will be obtained through scalable and low-cost fabrication techniques, which allow an easy integration in common microscope slides or flexible films, facilitating their application with commercial Raman spectrometers and providing an ideal route to extend the analyses in vivo.