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Quantum dots should deliver active vitamin D directly to inflammatory breast cancer tumors – Feb 2013


Session Title: Protein Biophysics in vivo (Biophysical Society Meeting)
Location: Hall C
Presentation Number: 2953-Pos
Board Number: B108
Presentation Time: 2/6/2013 10:30:00 AM
Author Block: Jeremy Bonor, Rachel Schaefer, Anja Nohe.
University of Delaware, Newark, DE, USA.

Calcitriol is the active form of Vitamin D3. Epidemiological data show that women with Vitamin D deficiency at the time of breast cancer diagnosis are 94% more likely to experience cancer spread and 73% more likely to die over the next 10 years, compared to women with adequate Vitamin D levels. Since vitamin D deficiency is especially common in African American and obese women, this observation may partially explain the relatively poor clinical outcome experienced by these patients [2]. Although current treatments for IBC are very aggressive and include surgery and radiation, IBC is still the most deadly breast cancer and has a survival rate of only 40% past 5 years. Novel treatments are desperately needed [3]. Current limitations for the use of calcitriol as a treatment for IBC and non-IBC breast cancer is that high concentrations of calcitriol must be delivered to the tumor. This is even more complicated for IBC, since the tumor rapidly metastasizes and disseminates trough the lymphatic system.

We successfully designed Mucin-1 (MUC-1) antibody-calcitriol conjugated Quantum Dots (MC-QDs) that infiltrate the lymphatic system and also accumulate at the original and distant tumor sites. Using this approach we analyzed the distribution and accumulation of MC-QDs in vivo in an inflammatory breast cancer mouse model over 4 days using an IVES Lumina system. After 4 days, organs were extracted and accumulation of nanoparticles was analyzed. Using quantitative image analysis we showed that the MC-DS accumulate at the tumor site as well as at the metastasized organs and tissues. The obtained data suggest that quantum dots can be used to image drug-tumor interactions in vivo and to deliver therapeutics to the tumor and metastasized sites as well.

From Press Release

Newswise — Philadelphia, Pa. – The shortened daylight of a Maine winter may make for long, dark nights – but it has shone a light on a novel experimental approach to fighting inflammatory breast cancer (IBC), an especially deadly form of breast cancer.

The new approach enlists the active form of Vitamin D3, called calcitriol, which is delivered therapeutically by quantum dots. Quantum dots are an engineered light-emitting nanoscale delivery vehicle. This new preliminary work shows the dots can be used to rapidly move high concentrations of calcitriol to targeted tumor sites where cancer cells accumulate, and also through the lymph system where the cancer spreads. With this approach, the calcitriol can fight on multiple fronts and the targeted location can be visualized with an imaging system tracking the quantum dots. The research will be presented at the 57th Annual Meeting of the Biophysical Society (BPS), held Feb. 2-6, 2013, in Philadelphia, Pa.

University of Delaware cancer researcher Anja Nohe was living in Maine when she first received funding from the Maine Cancer Foundation to determine the effect of calcitriol on breast cancer cells. Reading cancer literature helped her make connections between cancer, vitamin D, and the daylight regime of higher latitudes. "By talking with talented colleagues about these ideas, the foundation was set for the current project,” she says. After moving to the University of Delaware, she began working with Kenneth Van Golen, “an expert in the biology of IBC,” to evaluate calcitriol.

Compared to other forms of breast cancer, IBC is especially difficult to treat. It has a five-year survival rate of 40% versus 87% for all other breast cancers. A big part of what makes IBC treatment difficult is its multi-site growth pattern. Current aggressive treatments such as combinations of chemotherapy, surgery and radiation, have failed to significantly improve IBC survival rates.

This early experimental work on mice is encouraging because data show calcitriol can inhibit invasion and migration of SUM149 cells, an IBC cell line. "New IBC therapies are urgently needed, which is why the goal of my work is to find a successful treatment for inflammatory breast cancer, especially one with fewer side effects," Nohe says.

Presentation #2953-Pos, “Using calcitriol conjugated quantum dots to target inflammatory breast cancer tumors and metastasis in vivo,” will take place at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013, in the Pennsylvania Convention Center, Hall C. ABSTRACT: http://tinyurl.com/acw94xg


From the web: IBC =Inflammatory Breast Cancer

Inflammatory breast cancer is a rare (1 per 100,000) and very aggressive disease in which cancer cells block lymph vessels in the skin of the breast.
This type of breast cancer is called “inflammatory” because the breast often looks swollen and red, or “inflamed.”


  • by Vitamin D Council
  • It will be interesting to see if Quantum dots can concentrate forms of Vitamin D elsewhere in the body - VitaminDWiki