Light-Enhanced Anticancer Drug-Delivery

Light-Enhanced Anticancer Drug-Delivery

Author: Elliot Steeples

Drug delivery of anticancer compounds is a fast-growing and important field of research. By facilitating the controlled release of chemotherapy drugs, cancer cells can be selectively treated. Biodegradable nanoparticles are often used as drug-delivery devices for such purposes.

Baiwang Sun, Southeast University, Nanjing, China, and colleagues have developed nanoparticles which degrade upon exposure to a near-infrared laser and acidic conditions. This combination of conditions was used to release cisplatin, a commercial chemotherapy drug, in specific locations. This effect was used to induce apoptosis (programmed cell death) in MCF-7 and SK-BR-3 human breast cancer cell lines.

The nanoparticles are composed of a crosslinked poly(ethylene glycol) and poly(ε-caprolactone) block copolymers, and a biodegradable lecithin polymer doped with polyaniline. Herceptin, an antibody specific to the HER2 receptor expressed within breast cancer cells, was bound to the surface of the nanoparticle as a targeting agent.

The team tested the carrier systems containing cisplatin on the cell lines and found that irradiating the sample with a near-infrared laser could increase the amount of cisplatin released from 11.33 % to 82.64 % over 12 hours at pH 7.4. This effect could be improved by lowering the pH to 5.5, at which 99.78 % of cisplatin was released within 5 minutes, thereby increasing cell death. This result is encouraging, considering that the internal environment of cancer cells is usually acidic.


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