Detection Systems for Metastatic Colorectal Cancer

November 06, 2017

The UK College of Pharmacy Research Publication Highlight for October of 2017 was published in Pharmaceutical Research and is titled “Development of Halofluorochromic Polymer Nanoassemblies for the Potential Detection of Liver Metastatic Colorectal Cancer Tumors Using Experimental and Computational Approaches.”


The collaborative project included investigators from the University of Louisville and University of Kentucky.  Derek Reichel, a graduate student in the laboratory of Dr. Younsoo Bae in UK’s College of Pharmacy, led the project.  Louis Curtis and Elizabeth Ehlman in the laboratory of Dr. Hermann Frieboes from the Department of Bioengineering at the University of Louisville contributed as did Dr. Piotr Rychahou in the laboratory of Dr. Mark Evers in the Department of Surgery and UK Markey Cancer Center.


Colorectal Cancer is the second leading cause of death in adult cancer patients.  If it is detected in early stages, it is treatable.  However, methods for the detection of metastatic tumors are poor, complicating successful treatment.  The investigative team developed specialized nanoparticles that incorporated fluorescent dyes. The nanoparticle/dye assemblies identify acidic conditions, which are a hallmark of the tumor microenvironment. The team showed that the nanoparticle/dye assemblies became active in a model of metastatic colorectal cancer and were capable of identifying small colorectal cancer tumors in mice. 


“This is an excellent step forward in the early detection of metastatic colorectal cancer and a testament the power of team science,” said Greg Graf, Assistant Dean for Translational Research, UK College of Pharmacy.