Magneto-plasmonic hybrid nanosensors as versatile platform for breast cancer cell detection

2016 - 2018

  • Project Coordinator and French Coordinator:

    Prof. Igor Chourpa, director of the laboratory EA6295 Nanomédicaments et Nanosondes at University of Tours, Tours, France.
    +33 2 47 36 71 62

  • German Coordinator:

    Prof. A. Fahmi, director of a laboratory at Hochschule Rhein-Waal University of Applied Sciences (HRWU), Kleve, Germany.

  • Russian Coordinator:

    Prof. A.V. Feofanov, director of a laboratory at Shemyakin and Ovchinnikov Institute of Bioorganic Chemistry (IBC), Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russian Federation.

Launched in January 2016, the international research project "MINERVA" is a cooperation between academic research teams from France (University of Tours), Germany (Rhein-Waal University of Applied Sciences) and Russia (Shemyakin and Ovchinnikov Institute of Bioorganic Chemistry). The project is co-funded by :

  • the French Ministry of National Education, Higher Education and Research (MENESR)
  • the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF)
  • the Russian Foundation for Basic Research (RFBR).

The interdisciplinary project "MINERVA" aims at investigating new biomedical nanomaterials that contribute to the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer. The 30-month project assembles and tests new hybrid nanosystems consisting of inorganic cores and organic shells. The newly developed nanomaterials are able to be selectively accumulated in breast cancer cells and thus to help in cancer diagnostics and therapy. Because of their multimodal diagnostic function, the nanomaterials should be helpful for pre-operational detection of tiny breast tumors by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) as well as for recognizing the tumors intra-operationally, using optical detection in the spectral region between deep red and near-infrared. The optical detection of the nanosystems is very sensitive and specific, since it is based on a combination of fluorescence emission and surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS). In addition, the nanomaterials possess therapeutic function due to targeted delivery of anticancer drugs to cancer cells.

The kick-off meeting of the consortium has been held in Kleve, Germany, in February 2016 (see photographs below). In addition to meeting members of all the partner labs, this event has offered the opportunity to present the expertise of the labs, to summarize the objectives of the project and the scientific program, including the schedule of exchanges.


Left : Statue of Minerva (the Roman goddess of wisdom and sponsor of arts, trade and strategy) in one of the public gardens in Kleve, Germany. Right : KOM participants in february 2016.

The intermediate meeting was held in Moscow, Russian Federation, from 29th to 30th of May 2017 (photos below).

Minerva intermediate meeting Moscow Minerva intermediate meeting Moscow

The final meeting took place in Tours, France, from 28th to 29th of June 2018. Indeed, for the German and French labs, the project implementation period ended last summer. Our Russian colleagues still have a few months left for finishing their tasks.

In the framework of the MINERVA project, the consortium participants had the opportunity for several scientific stays in the partner labs which favored interdisciplinary scientific exchanges.

The project has allowed to fund 2 years of the PhD thesis of Mathias PACAUD, in co-direction of Professors Igor Chourpa and Amir Fahmi.

The results of the MINERVA project have been presented as a part of:

  • 9 oral communications: 8 international talks (including 5 invited and 1 plenary) and 1 national talk (France).
  • 4 posters presented at international congresses and 1 at a national congress (Russia).
  • 2 scientific papers published:
    • Folic acid-capped PEGylated magnetic nanoparticles enter cancer cells mostly via clathrin-dependent endocytosis.
      Allard-Vannier E, Hervé-Aubert K, Kaaki K, Blondy T, Shebanova A, Shaitan KV, Ignatova AA, Saboungi ML, Feofanov AV, Chourpa I.
      Biochim Biophys Acta. 2017 Jun; 1861(6):1578-1586. doi: 10.1016/j.bbagen.2016.11.045.
    • Targeting HER2-breast tumors with scFv-decorated bimodal nanoprobes.
      Alric C, Hervé-Aubert K, Aubrey N, Melouk S, Lajoie L, Même W, Même S, Courbebaisse Y, Ignatova AA, Feofanov AV, Chourpa I, Allard-Vannier E.
      J Nanobiotechnology. 2018 Feb 21; 16(1):18. doi: 10.1186/s12951-018-0341-6.
  • 1 patent submitted in June 2018.