Malignant tumors acquire new blood vessels either locally by remodeling pre-existing
mature capillaries or by recruiting circulating cells derived from the bone marrow.
Recent laboratory and clinical evidence validate the role of circulating bone marrow derived
pro-angiogenic, tumor homing cells as biomarkers of the tumor angiogenic status. Peptide
sequences specifi c for these circulating biomarkers represent a new approach in angiogenic
medicine and can be used for several diff erent applications that will benefi t the diagnosis and
treatment of cancer.
In this investigation we report on the discovery of high affi nity peptide ligands that are
specifi c for bone marrow derived tumor homing cell populations. We screened a peptide
phage display library and devised a novel selection approach that combines in vitro and in vivo
protocols. To assess the utility of the novel high affi nity, high specifi city peptides we examined
the ability of the peptide ligands to direct imaging reagents in vivo and monitored the process
by noninvasive positron emission tomography (PET) scans. For this purpose we developed a
labeling platform employing the phage that displays the cell specifi c peptide as a molecularly
targeted imaging agent. Th ese proof-of-principal experiments demonstrate the ability of the
peptide to deliver payload (radiolabeled phage conjugates) in vivo to angiogenic tumors. Th e
novel peptides provide molecular tools with which to monitor noninvasively the status of tumor
angiogenesis on a cellular and molecular level.
Dr. Anka (Dobreva) Veleva is a faculty member at the Joint UNC/NCSU Department of Biomedical Engineering.
Dr. Veleva is also a Principal Investigator at the McAllister Heart Institute at the University of North Carolina
at Chapel Hill. Her multidisciplinary research program integrates aspects and utilizes methodologies from
disciplines such as high-throughput molecular screening, vascular stem cell biology, medical engineering, and
high-resolution imaging. She is an author of 40+ peer reviewed articles in reputed journals and a number of
patent applications. Dr. Veleva serves as a manuscript reviewer for various journal including Molecules among
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