Cell surface-engineering to embed targeting ligands or tracking agents on the cell membrane

Kwang Suk Lim, Daniel Y. Lee, Gabriel M. Valencia, Young Wook Won, David A. Bull

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


The key challenge to improve the efficacy of cell therapy is how to efficiently modify cells with a specific molecule or compound that can guide the cells to the target tissue. To address this, we have developed a cell surface engineering technology to non-invasively modify the cell surface. This technology can embed a wide variety of bioactive molecules on any cell surface and allow for the targeting of a wide range of tissues in a variety of disease states. Using our cell surface engineering technology, mesenchymal stem cells (MSC)s were modified with: 1) a homing peptide or a recombinant protein to facilitate the migration of the cells toward a specific molecular target; or 2) magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) contrast agents to allow for in vivo tracking of the cells. The incorporation of a homing peptide or a targeting ligand on MSCs facilitated the migration of the cells toward their molecular target. MRI contrast agents were successfully embedded on the cell surfaces without adverse effects to the cells and the contrast agent-labeled cells were detectable by MRI. Our technology is a promising method of cell surface engineering that is applicable to a broad range of cell therapies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1042-1047
Number of pages6
JournalBiochemical and Biophysical Research Communications
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 22 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Cell delivery
  • Cell surface engineering
  • Cell tracking
  • Homing peptide

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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