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Project NanoCapture

NanoCapture is a translational research project codeveloping our cytotoxins with nanoparticles, to improve the efficiency and safety margin of cancer therapy.

The NanoCapture project is funded by the highly prestigious biennial GOBio Biotechnology award of the BMBF (German Ministry of Education and Research), after prior support through a Biotechnology Exploratory Grant in 2015 and a Feasibility Grant in 2017. The NanoCapture project is now co-led by Dr. Petar Marinković.

Basis of the Nanocapture project:
"Nano-sized" diagnostic and therapeutic agents including nanoparticles, liposomes, quantum dots and virus-like particles have been intensely developed since the 1980s. "Nano" concepts are appealing for their potential to deliver high doses of cargo per particle, as well as delivering cargoes that cannot be formulated as small molecules (eg. hydrolytically unstable compounds, elements which cannot easily be included in drugs, or functions reliant on superstructure eg. quantum dots). Yet very little "nano" work has reached patients in the clinic. A major problem is that nanoparticles have not been sufficiently as well as selectively distributed to tumours, despite the targeting methods used, which include the EPR effect, and decoration with cell-surface-receptor ligands and antibodies.

We are exploring a new two-component combination ("NanoCap"), reliant on small molecule organic chemistry, to actively shunt nanoparticles into tumours with fast delivery, high dose accumulation, and high tumour selectivity. We aim to apply it to arbitrary nano-formulated cargoes (diagnostic agents for MRI, PET, or fluorescence; therapeutic agents; or theranostic particles), allowing medical applications for a range of nano-systems which have already been developed: both for early-diagnostic purposes, and for therapeutic anticancer use.


Preliminary results of NanoCap small-molecule-based nanoparticle-to-tumour targeting. Fluorescent nanoparticles were administered to mice with subcutaneous tumours; the NanoCap combination improves the speed and selectivity of delivery as well as the dose delivered.


The goal within the framework of the BMBF Feasibility project is to validate the selectivity and dose delivery enhancements possible with the NanoCap combination, and to explore its therapeutic applications to primary and metastatic tumour therapy in mouse models.