Assembly, characterization and evaluation of a 3rd generation nanoparticle based drug carrier for metastatic breast cancer treatment

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Virginia Tech

Cancer is one of the leading causes of death in the world. For women in the U.S. and the European countries, breast cancer is the most common type and it continuously threatens the lives of the patients and causes huge economic losses. Chemotherapy and endocrine therapy are the common treatments for recurrence prevention and metastatic cancer symptom palliation. However, the uses of these therapies are meanwhile largely limited because their toxic side effects and non-specificity usually lead to low quality lives of the patients. Low aqueous solubility, multi-drug resistance, degradation of drug, limited intra-tumor diffusion and etc. are other limitations of conventional chemotherapies and endocrine therapies.

Nanoparticle based drug carriers were extensively studied for therapeutic drug delivery. Many carriers could be loaded with high dose of hydrophobic and hydrophilic drugs, protect the drug from the surrounding in vivo environment during the transportation, specifically target and enter the tumor cells and slowly release the drug thereafter. Advanced nanoparticle drug carriers are studied driven by the need of a more efficient drug delivery. The 3rd generation of nanoparticle based drug carriers are recently developed. They usually consist of more than one type of nanoparticles. Different part of the particle has more specialized functions. Therefore, by carefully selecting from the conventional nanoparticle carriers, a 3rd generation particle could have the properties such as high loading capacity of multiple drugs, prolonged half-life in circulation, higher tendency of accumulating at the tumor site, improved specificity to the tumor cells, higher cell uptake rate and accurately triggered controlled release, and combination of the above-mentioned properties.

In our study, a paclitaxel loaded nanoparticle supported immunoliposome was assembled for metastatic breast cancer drug delivery. Functionalized single walled carbon nanohorn or poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) was encapsulated in the polyethylene glycol (PEG) coated liposome for high drug loading and controlled release. Anti-Her2 antibody or Herceptin® was grafted onto the surface of the liposome for a higher affinity to the Her2 overexpressing breast cancer cells.

Firstly, the conjugation of protein to the surface of liposome and PEGylated liposomes were investigated. Proteins with or without membrane binding domain were conjugated to liposome and PEGylated liposomes through covalent and non-covalent binding for comparison. A modified enzyme-linked immune sorbent assay was developed for surface grafted protein quantification.

Secondly, the encapsulation of solid nanoparticle into PEGylated immunoliposome was investigated. Results showed a new structure of solid nanoparticle in PEGylated immunoliposome at a 1:1 ratio was formed during the repeated freeze-thawing process. Supported immunoliposomes with high homogeneity in size and structure were purified by sucrose density gradient centrifugation.

Thirdly, the drug loading, triggered release, cell binding, cell uptake and cell toxicities of the supported immunoliposome were studied. Release results showed a minimum drug leakage in serum at body temperature from the particle. The release was initiated with a minor burst trigged by low pH inside the tumor cell and followed with a long term linear pattern. Cell assay results showed the highest binding affinity of the antibody or Herceptin® grafted nanoparticles to Her2 overexpressing cell lines and a lysosomal intracellular distribution of the endocytosised particles.

In the final study, a fabrication process for polymeric material nanoparticles was established. The process was capable of providing accurate control of the particle size with significant high output rates, thus largely extends the scope of materials for supporting the immunoliposome.

metastatic breast cancer, nanohorn, immunoliposome, nanoparticle based drug carrier, double controlled release