Polymeric nanocarriers conjugated with low molecular weight drugs are designed in order to improve their efficacy and toxicity profile. This approach is particularly beneficial for anticancer drugs, where the polymer-drug conjugates selectively accumulate at the tumor site, due to the enhanced permeability and retention (EPR) effect. The conjugated drug is typically inactive, and upon its pH- or enzymatically-triggered release from the carrier, it regains its therapeutic activity. These settings lack information regarding drug-release time, kinetics and location. Thereby, real-time non-invasive intravital monitoring of drug release is required for theranostics (therapy and diagnostics). We present here the design, synthesis and characterization of a theranostic nanomedicine, based on N-(2-hydroxypropyl) methacrylamide (HPMA) copolymer, owing its fluorescence-based monitoring of site-specific drug release to a self-quenched near-infrared fluorescence (NIRF) probe. We designed two HPMA copolymer-based systems that complement to a theranostic nanomedicine. The diagnostic system consists of self-quenched Cy5 (SQ-Cy5) as a reporter probe and the therapeutic system is based on the anticancer agent paclitaxel (PTX). HPMA copolymer-PTX/SQ-Cy5 systems enable site-specific release upon enzymatic degradation in cathepsin B-overexpressing breast cancer cells. The release of the drug occurs concomitantly with the activation of the fluorophore to its Turn-ON state. HPMA copolymer-SQ-Cy5 exhibits preferable body distribution and drug release compared with the free drug and probe when administered to cathepsin B-overexpressing 4T1 murine mammary adenocarcinoma-bearing mice. This approach of co-delivery of two complementary systems serves as a proof-of-concept for real-time deep tissue intravital orthotopic monitoring and may have the potential use in clinical utility as a theranostic nanomedicine.
Keywords: Breast cancer; NIR fluorophore; Paclitaxel; Polymeric nanomedicines; Theranostics; Tumor targeting.
Copyright © 2014. Published by Elsevier Ireland Ltd.