Using Cell Penetration Peptide to Enhance the Delivery of Antibody-Gold Nanoparticles for More Effective Radiotherapy

Villanova University
Malvern, Pennsylvania
Raised of $4,500 Goal
Ended on 2/27/18
Campaign Ended
  • $1,621
  • 37%
  • Finished
    on 2/27/18

About This Project

Gold nanoparticles (GNPs) have been investigated as sensitizers for radiation cancer therapy. GNPs can enter normal cells, causing cytotoxic side effects. They can be linked to an antibody that binds to a specific cancer surface protein for target delivery into cancer cells. Cell penetration peptide (CPP) can actively cross through cell membrane. Our hypothesis is that CPP paired with antibody allows efficient delivery of GNPs to cancer cells to enhance radiotherapy.

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What is the context of this research?

Gold nanoparticles (GNPs) can generate heat to cause irreversible tumor cell damage by radiation and have been investigated as sensitizers for radiation cancer therapy. However, GNPs can be delivered to normal tissues and cause harmful cytotoxic side effects. In this study, GNPs will be linked to an antibody that targets a specific protein on the surface of breast cancer cells. However, the antibody usually does not get into the cells efficiently, limiting the delivery of GNPs into cancer cells. Cell penetrating peptides (CPPs) can actively cross over the cell membrane. Pairing antibody with CPP would promote internalization and delivery of GNPs into cancer cells with high efficiency and specificity, improving the efficacy of radiation therapy.

What is the significance of this project?

Effective cancer treatment needs to target the pathological source of the disease with minimal side effects. The aim of this project is to develop an effective method for target delivery of antibody-GNPs to sensitize cancer cells to radiotherapy and improve the efficacy of cancer treatment. CPPs can translocate through the cell membrane and deliver drugs directly to a target cell. We will evaluate whether CPP conjugated to antibody will increase the internalization of antibody and consequently the delivery of GNPs into cancer cells. The results will help us develop a feasible approach that can efficiently deliver antibody-drug to cancer cells. We will also determine the optimal radiation treatment that can augment the cytotoxicity of GNPs for more effective cancer treatment.

What are the goals of the project?

Our goal is to evaluate whether CPP increases the efficiency of delivery of antibody-GNPs into specific cancer cells in order to minimize harmful side effects to normal tissues. We will also determine whether more effective delivery of GNPs would result in an increased efficiency of radiation treatment. GNPs will be linked to the antibody that binds to a specific protein on breast cancer cells. Breast cancer cells will be treated using culture media, antibody, GNP, antibody-GNP, and CPP-antibody-GNP. GNP entry into cancer cells will be visualized using a powerful imaging system. The cells will be treated with radiation and cell mortality will be measured for all test groups.


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Cell penetrating peptide synthesis, peptide-antibody conjugation, and GNP labeling kit are costly and critical reagents for this study. Without these items, I cannot move on with the study. The price quote for these reagents reveals the cost is much higher than what I can pay from the pocket. I have tried to look for a sponsor from industries and universities without a success. Through internet searching, I learned about crowdfunding which could support interesting research projects. This is an exciting opportunity. Please fund and support my project which may provide a novel and feasible approach for more effective cancer treatment.

Endorsed by

I am very excited about this project using a cell penetrating peptide to promote the target delivery of antibody-gold nanoparticle (GNP) complex to cancer cells. The research will be supervised by expert scientists from the Villanova University. If successful, this would provide a novel approach to enhance the efficacy of radiation cancer therapy with a reduced side effect. In addition, the research will provide insight about whether cell penetrating peptides can serve as a generic alternative for efficient drug delivery to diseased cells.
Kevin presents a very interesting and detailed project to investigate a targeted breast cancer treatment. Targeted gold nanoparticle cell killing is an interesting and potentially powerful alternative to more common, less specific chemotherapies. Kevin’s plan is well researched, supported by literature, and meticulously designed to differentiate and quantify the effects of gold nanoparticle cell killing.
I fully support Kevin Guo’s research project in my lab at Villanova.

Project Timeline

We would like to start the synthesis of CPP and conjugate it to the anti-HER2 antibody by the end of December. This would take three weeks to obtain the CPP-antibody. Then CPP-antibody and antibody will be conjugated to GNP in the middle of December. By the end of December, we will treat MCF7 breast cancer cells with media, anti-HER2 antibody, GNP, antibody-GNP, and CPP-antibody-GNP. The data from imaging and cytotoxicity assay from radiotreatment will be collected.

Dec 22, 2017

Procurement of anti-HER2 antibody

Dec 29, 2017

Synthesis of cell penetrating peptide (CPP)

Dec 29, 2017

Project Launched

Jan 04, 2018

Conjugation of CPP to anti-HER2 antibody

Jan 24, 2018

Execution of scientific experiments

Meet the Team

Kevin Guo
Kevin Guo

Kevin Guo

Hello everyone! My name is Kevin Guo. I am currently a sophomore in Great Valley High School. I like cross country running, karate, and music in my spare time. At school, I have taken AP Biology and am currently taking AP Chemistry. These courses have prepared me to engage in scientific research in biomedical sciences. Over the past few years, I participated and won several awards in Chester County and DVSF Science Fairs. Some projects that I have undertaken include evaluating the cytotoxic effects of artificial food dyes using Daphnea Magna as a model and studying the cytotoxic effects of antibody-gold nanoparticle complex on breast cancer cells over expressing HER2. These science fair projects have inspired me in my passion for science.

I developed a passion for cancer research when I was a member of Junior National Honor Society and was involved with activities sponsored by Breast Cancer Awareness. During my involvement there, I heard so many devastating stories about patients who not only suffered from the malignancy of cancer but also left family and friends with unrelenting sorrow when the patients lost the battle. I have also had several people in my life losing their loved ones to cancer. My grandmother is currently battling with late stage lung cancer and suffers from side effects of chemotherapy. These stories made me sad and have motivated me to take on cancer research projects to make a difference and help patients to stand up to cancer.

I am launching a campaign to cover expensive reagents much needed for the project aimed to improve the efficiency of cancer radiation therapy with reduced side effects. Your contribution will make an impact. Even if you don’t donate directly, you can support my project by sharing my website link through social media or email to your friends. With the support from people like you, our cause to help cancer patients will become a reality.

Additional Information


Jain, S., Hirst, D. G., & O'sullivan, J. M. (2012). Gold nanoparticles as novel agents for cancer therapy. The British journal of radiology, 85(1010), 101-113.

Gamberi, T., Magherini, F., Bini, L., Messori, L., & Gabbiani, C. (2013). New insights into the molecular mechanisms of selected anticancer metal compounds through bioinformatic analysis of proteomic data. J Proteomics Bioinform S, 6, 2.

Fay, F., & Scott, C. J. (2011). Antibody-targeted nanoparticles for cancer therapy. Immunotherapy, 3(3), 381-394.

Zhao, Y., Lou, D., Burkett, J., & Kohler, H. (2001). Chemical engineering of cell penetrating antibodies. Journal of immunological methods, 254(1), 137-145.

Lim, K. J., Sung, B. H., Shin, J. R., Lee, Y. W., Yang, K. S., & Kim, S. C. (2013). A cancer specific cell-penetrating peptide, BR2, for the efficient delivery of an scFv into cancer cells. PloS one, 8(6), e66084.

Project Backers

  • 12Backers
  • 37%Funded
  • $1,621Total Donations
  • $135.08Average Donation
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