Oncomedicine 2017; 2:1-13. doi:10.7150/oncm.17406

Research Paper

Engineering Remotely Triggered Liposomes to Target Triple Negative Breast Cancer

Alexandra Sneider1, Rahul Jadia2, Brandon Piel1, Derek VanDyke1, Christopher Tsiros2, Prakash Rai1,2✉

1. University of Massachusetts Lowell, Department of Chemical Engineering, Francis College of Engineering, 1 University Ave, Lowell, MA 01854, USA.
2. University of Massachusetts Lowell, Biomedical Engineering and Biotechnology Program, 1 University Ave, Lowell, MA 01854, USA.


Triple Negative Breast Cancer (TNBC) continues to present a challenge in the clinic, as there is still no approved targeted therapy. TNBC is the worst sub-type of breast cancer in terms of prognosis and exhibits a deficiency in estrogen, progesterone, and human epidermal growth factor 2 (HER2) receptors. One possible option for the treatment of TNBC is chemotherapy. The issue with many chemotherapy drugs is that their effectiveness is diminished due to poor water solubility, and the method of administration directly or with a co-solvent intravenously can lead to an increase in toxicity. The issues of drug solubility can be avoided by using liposomes as a drug delivery carrier. Liposomes are engineered, biological nanoconstructs that possess the ability to encapsulate both hydrophobic and hydrophilic drugs and have been clinically approved to treat cancer. Specific targeting of cancer cell receptors through the use of ligands conjugated to the surface of drug-loaded liposomes could lessen damage to normal, healthy tissue. This study focuses on polyethylene glycol (PEG)-coated, folate conjugated, benzoporphyrin derivative (BPD)-loaded liposomes for treatment via photodynamic therapy (PDT). The folate receptor is over expressed on TNBC cells so these liposomes are targeted for greater uptake into cancer cells. PDT involves remotely irradiating light at 690 nm to trigger BPD, a hydrophobic photosensitive drug, to form reactive oxygen species that cause tumor cell death. BPD also displays a fluorescence signal when excited by light making it possible to image the fluorescence prior to PDT and for theranostics. In this study, free BPD, non-targeted and folate-targeted PEGylated BPD-loaded liposomes were introduced to a metastatic breast cancer cell line (MDA-MB-231) in vitro. The liposomes were reproducibly synthesized and characterized for size, polydispersity index (PDI), zeta potential, stability, and BPD release kinetics. Folate competition tests, fluorescence confocal imaging, and MTT assay were used to observe and quantify targeting effectiveness. The toxicity of BPD before and after PDT in monolayer and 3D in vitro cultures with TNBC cells was observed. This study may contribute to a novel nanoparticle-mediated approach to target TNBC using PDT.

Keywords: Contrast agent, drug delivery, oncology, targeted therapy, verteporfin, nanotechnology.

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How to cite this article:
Sneider A, Jadia R, Piel B, VanDyke D, Tsiros C, Rai P. Engineering Remotely Triggered Liposomes to Target Triple Negative Breast Cancer. Oncomedicine 2017; 2:1-13. doi:10.7150/oncm.17406. Available from http://www.oncm.org/v02p0001.htm