by Emily Matuczinski and Ashley Parkhurst
Faculty mentor: Dr. Leanna Giancarlo
Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is a serious intracranial cancer which maintains a low survival rate due to its aggressive nature and invasive morphology that is resistant to current treatment methods. Recently, superparamagnetic iron-oxide nanoparticles (SPIONs) bound to a TWEAK ligand have been proposed to specifically target glioblastoma cells at their Fn-14 receptor by inducing cellular death of the cancerous cells through the disruption of the membrane when exposed to a magnetic field. While apoptosis in GBM cells was successfully induced in vitro, the effect of the SPION-TWEAK complex on normal somatic cells and the effect of external environments on the SPION biopolymer is currently being evaluated. Specifically, in vitro endothelial cells, a common somatic cell type used in the lining of blood and lymph vessels, were subjected to the SPION-TWEAK complex in the presence and absence of a magnetic field. These cells were visualized via fluorescent microscope to observe if the endothelial cells underwent programmed cell death from the proposed treatment. Results from fluorescence microscopy demonstrate that the SPION-TWEAK complex has no effect on the endothelial cells, maintaining the theory that the conjugated nanoparticles only affect GBM cells. Also, previous studies have shown that the physicochemical properties and integrity of nanoparticles undergo drastic changes in vitro and in vivo, and these changes are attributed to cellular lysosomal degradation. Transmission electron microscopy studies should be conducted to determine whether the biopolymer from the SPION-TWEAK complex is affected by the magnetic field presence, or if the biopolymer is shed by lysosomal degradation. It is crucial to establish the interactions of the nanoparticle complex with benign cells and their magnetic field environment in order to utilize the proposed treatment in vivo so that it does not affect the essential, noncancerous cells in the body.