We fabricated hyaluronan-modified magnetic nanoclusters (HA-MNCs) for detection of CD44-overexpressing breast cancer using magnetic resonance (MR) imaging. CD44 is closely associated with cancer growth, including proliferation, metastasis, invasion, and angiogenesis. Hence, pyrenyl hyaluronan (Py-HA) conjugates were synthesized as CD44-targetable surfactants with hyaluronan (HA) and 1-pyrenylbutyric acid (Py) to modify hyaluronan on hydrophobic magnetic nanocrystals. Subsequently, HA-MNCs were fabricated using the nano-emulsion method; magnetic nanocrystals were simultaneously self-assembled with Py-HA conjugates, and their physical and magnetic properties depended on the degree of substitution (DS) of Py in Py-HA conjugates. HA-MNCs exhibited superior targeting efficiency with MR sensitivity as well as excellent biocompatibility through in vitro/in vivo studies. This suggests that HA-MNCs can be a potent cancer specific molecular imaging agent via targeted detection of CD44 with MR imaging. © 2011.
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