Nano meets micro-translational nanotechnology in medicine: Nano-based applications for early tumor detection and therapy

Svenja Siemer, Désirée Wünsch, Aya Khamis, Qiang Lu, Arnaud Scherberich, Miriam Filippi, Marie Pierre Krafft, Jan Hagemann, Carsten Weiss, Guo Bin Ding, Roland H. Stauber, Alena Gribko

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Nanomaterials have great potential for the prevention and treatment of cancer. Circulating tumor cells (CTCs) are cancer cells of solid tumor origin entering the peripheral blood after detachment from a primary tumor. The occurrence and circulation of CTCs are accepted as a prerequisite for the formation of metastases, which is the major cause of cancer-associated deaths. Due to their clinical significance CTCs are intensively discussed to be used as liquid biopsy for early diagnosis and prognosis of cancer. However, there are substantial challenges for the clinical use of CTCs based on their extreme rarity and heterogeneous biology. Therefore, methods for effective isolation and detection of CTCs are urgently needed. With the rapid development of nanotechnology and its wide applications in the biomedical field, researchers have designed various nano-sized systems with the capability of CTCs detection, isolation, and CTCs-targeted cancer therapy. In the present review, we summarize the underlying mechanisms of CTC-associated tumor metastasis, and give detailed information about the unique properties of CTCs that can be harnessed for their effective analytical detection and enrichment. Furthermore, we want to give an overview of representative nano-systems for CTC isolation, and highlight recent achievements in microfluidics and lab-on-a-chip technologies. We also emphasize the recent advances in nano-based CTCs-targeted cancer therapy. We conclude by critically discussing recent CTC-based nano-systems with high therapeutic and diagnostic potential as well as their biocompatibility as a practical example of applied nanotechnology.

Original languageEnglish
Article number383
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Biocompatibility
  • Circulating tumor cells
  • Metastasis
  • Microbubbles
  • Nanomedicine
  • Nanotechnology


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