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Developing Photo-responsive Metal-Organic Frameworks towards Controlled Drug Delivery
Epley, Charity Cherie
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The development of therapeutic drugs or drug systems that enhance a cancer patient's quality of life during treatment is a primary goal for many researchers across a wide range of disciplines. Many investigators turn to nanoparticles (~50-200 nm in size) that tend to accumulate in tumor tissues in order to deliver active drug compounds to specific sites in the body. This targeted delivery approach would reduce the total body effects of current cancer drugs that result in unwanted (sometimes painful and even fatal) side effects. One of the main obstacles however, is ensuring that drugs incorporated into the nanoparticles are anchored such that premature drug release is prohibited. Also, while it is important to ensure strong drug-nanocarrier interactions, the nanocarrier must be able to release the drug when it has reached its biological target. We have developed a nanocarrier that provides a platform for drug systems that could achieve this drug release via the use of a light "trigger". Metal-Organic Frameworks (MOFs) are a relatively new class of often highly porous materials that act as "sponges" for the absorption of various small molecules. MOFs are so named because they consist of metal clusters that are linked by organic compounds to form networked solids that are easily tuned based on the choice of metal and organic "linker". We have developed a MOF nanocarrier incorporating benign zirconium (IV) metal clusters bridged by an organic component that changes shape when illuminated with a light source. The resulting material is therefore not stable upon irradiation due to the organic linker shape change that disturbs the MOF structure and causes it to degrade. When loaded with drugs, this photo-enhanced degradation results in the release of the cargo thereby, providing a handle on controlling drug release with the use of a light trigger. We have demonstrated that in the presence of the MOF nanocarrier incorporating 5-fluorouracil (a clinically available cancer drug), very low toxicity to human breast cancer cells is observed in the dark, however, cell death occurs in the presence of a light source. These reports offer a model MOF nanocarrier system that could be used to incorporate various drugs and therefore tune the system to an individual patient's needs. Furthermore, we also developed a material that is capable of providing magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) contrast by changing the metal to manganese (II). MRI contrast agents are compounds that serve to either darken or brighten an MRI image based on the agent used and therefore they aid in clinical diagnosis by making internal abnormalities easier to spot. Currently gadolinium (III) complexes are the most widely used contrast agents; however, the toxicity of gadolinium (III) has been shown to be responsible for the development of nephrogenic systemic fibrosis in some patients. This manganese material has also shown useful for the attachment of fluorescent dyes that can aid in the benchtop optical diagnosis of biopsies. These reports provide a basis for developing ways to offer controlled drug delivery in cancer patients and to aid in cancer diagnosis using MOF materials, in an effort to reach the goals of comfortable cancer treatment.
- Doctoral Dissertations