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An engineered anti-CA19-9 cys-diabody for positron emission tomography imaging of pancreatic cancer and targeting of polymerized liposomal nanoparticles.

  • Author(s): Girgis, Mark D
  • Federman, Noah
  • Rochefort, Matthew M
  • McCabe, Katelyn E
  • Wu, Anna M
  • Nagy, Jon O
  • Denny, Christopher
  • Tomlinson, James S
  • et al.


Antibody-based therapeutics is a rapidly growing field. Small engineered antibody fragments demonstrate similar antigen affinity compared with the parental antibody but have a shorter serum half-life and possess the ability to be conjugated to nanoparticles. The goal of this study was to engineer an anti-carbohydrate antigen 19-9 (CA19-9) cys-diabody fragment in hopes of targeting nanoparticles to pancreatic cancer.


The anti-CA19-9 cys-diabody was created by engineering a C-terminal cysteine residue into the DNA single-chain Fv construct of the anti-CA19-9 diabody and expressed in NS0 cells. Maleimide chemistry was used to conjugate the cys-diabody to polymerized liposomal nanoparticles (PLNs) through the cysteine residues. Flow cytometry was used to evaluate targeting of cys-diabody and cys-diabody-PLN conjugate to human pancreatic cancer cell lines. The cys-diabody was radiolabeled with a positron emitter ((124)I) and evaluated in a mouse model of CA19-9-positive and CA19-9-negative xenografts with micro-positron emission tomography/micro-computed tomography at successive time intervals after injection. Percentage of injected dose per gram of radioactivity was measured in blood and tumor to provide objective confirmation of the micro-positron emission tomographic images.


Tumor xenograft imaging of the anti-CA19-9 cys-diabody demonstrated an average tumor-to-blood ratio of 3.0 and positive-to-negative tumor ratio of 7.4. Successful conjugation of the cys-diabody to PLNs was indicated by flow cytometry showing specific binding of cys-diabody-PLN conjugate to human pancreatic cancer cells in vitro.


Our results show that the anti-CA19-9 cys-diabody targets pancreatic cancer providing specific molecular imaging in tumor xenograft models. Furthermore, the cys-diabody-PLN conjugate demonstrates target-specific binding of human pancreatic cancer cells with the potential to deliver targeted treatment.

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