Background: There is an immense clinical need for novel therapeutics for the treatment of angiogenesis-dependent calcified neoplasms such as osteosarcomas and bone metastases. We developed a new therapeutic strategy to target bone metastases and calcified neoplasms using combined polymer-bound angiogenesis inhibitors. Using an advanced "living polymerization" technique, the reversible addition-fragmentation chain transfer (RAFT), we conjugated the aminobisphosphonate alendronate (ALN), and the potent anti-angiogenic agent TNP-470 with N-(2-hydroxypropyl)methacrylamide (HPMA) copolymer through a Glycine-Glycine-Proline-Norleucine linker, cleaved by cathepsin K, a cysteine protease overexpressed at resorption sites in bone tissues. In this approach, dual targeting is achieved. Passive accumulation is possible due to the increase in molecular weight following polymer conjugation of the drugs, thus extravasating from the tumor leaky vessels and not from normal healthy vessels. Active targeting to the calcified tissues is achieved by ALN's affinity to bone mineral.
Methods and finding: The anti-angiogenic and antitumor potency of HPMA copolymer-ALN-TNP-470 conjugate was evaluated both in vitro and in vivo. We show that free and conjugated ALN-TNP-470 have synergistic anti-angiogenic and antitumor activity by inhibiting proliferation, migration and capillary-like tube formation of endothelial and human osteosarcoma cells in vitro. Evaluation of anti-angiogenic, antitumor activity and body distribution of HPMA copolymer-ALN-TNP-470 conjugate was performed on severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) male mice inoculated with mCherry-labeled MG-63-Ras human osteosarcoma and by modified Miles permeability assay. Our targeted bi-specific conjugate reduced VEGF-induced vascular hyperpermeability by 92% and remarkably inhibited osteosarcoma growth in mice by 96%.
Conclusions: This is the first report to describe a new concept of a narrowly-dispersed combined polymer therapeutic designed to target both tumor and endothelial compartments of bone metastases and calcified neoplasms at a single administration. This new approach of co-delivery of two synergistic drugs may have clinical utility as a potential therapy for angiogenesis-dependent cancers such as osteosarcoma and bone metastases.