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Keywords:

  • Stem cell tracking and imaging;
  • Magnetic nanoparticles;
  • Mesenchymal stem cells;
  • Cancer;
  • Nanotechnology;
  • Gene therapy;
  • SPION

Abstract

Ineffective treatment and poor patient management continue to plague the arena of clinical oncology. The crucial issues include inadequate treatment efficacy due to ineffective targeting of cancer deposits, systemic toxicities, suboptimal cancer detection and disease monitoring. This has led to the quest for clinically relevant, innovative multifaceted solutions such as development of targeted and traceable therapies. Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) have the intrinsic ability to “home” to growing tumors and are hypoimmunogenic. Therefore, these can be used as (a) “Trojan Horses” to deliver gene therapy directly into the tumors and (b) carriers of nanoparticles to allow cell tracking and simultaneous cancer detection. The camouflage of MSC carriers can potentially tackle the issues of safety, vector, and/or transgene immunogenicity as well as nanoparticle clearance and toxicity. The versatility of the nanotechnology platform could allow cellular tracking using single or multimodal imaging modalities. Toward that end, noninvasive magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is fast becoming a clinical favorite, though there is scope for improvement in its accuracy and sensitivity. In that, use of superparamagnetic iron-oxide nanoparticles (SPION) as MRI contrast enhancers may be the best option for tracking therapeutic MSC. The prospects and consequences of synergistic approaches using MSC carriers, gene therapy, and SPION in developing cancer diagnostics and therapeutics are discussed. STEM CELLS 2010; 28:1686–1702.