Publication Date

Fall 2011

Document Type

Project Summary

Degree Name

Master of Science


Analytical Chemistry

First Advisor

Walter Henne, Jr., Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Stephen Kent, M.B.A.

Third Advisor

Patty Fu-Giles, Ph.D.


Folate receptor alpha is a membrane-bound protein displaying high affinity for folic acid. This receptor is believed to serve as a receptor-mediated transport system of folic acid into cancer and cells associated with inflammation. Interesting, most normal cells in the body have little if no high affinity folate receptor alpha. Based on these attributes, folate based drug delivery, imaging systems, and diagnostic systems are in several stages of development worldwide.

Numerous methods have been explored in the literature in an attempt to detect low levels of free folate receptor and/or rare circulating cancer cells. In an attempt to further exploit these systems, we are currently exploring the use of a proprietary folate-fluorescein-PEG-biotin (FFPB) capture ligand synthesized by Dr. Walter Henne. In this current project, we have successfully purified and characterized FFPB capture ligand, which has been incorporated into a secondary detection scheme of captured folate receptor positive cells utilizing fluorescein microscopy. The inexpensive and previously produced folate probe was substituted for the more costly and cumbersome antibody based ligands that are typically used for this method. This method significantly reduces false positive events associated with non-specific binding and capture of non-targeted cells (a problem associated with the aforementioned affinity capture protocols).


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