Bone is a favorable microenvironment for tumor growth and a frequent destination for metastatic cancer cells. Targeting cancers within the bone marrow remains a crucial oncologic challenge due to issues of drug availability and microenvironment-induced resistance. Herein, we engineered bone-homing polymeric nanoparticles (NPs) for spatiotemporally controlled delivery of therapeutics to bone, which diminish off-target effects and increase local drug concentrations. The NPs consist of poly(D,L-lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA), polyethylene glycol (PEG), and bisphosphonate (or alendronate, a targeting ligand). The engineered NPs were formulated by blending varying ratios of the synthesized polymers: PLGA-b-PEG and alendronate-conjugated polymer PLGA-b-PEG-Ald, which ensured long circulation and targeting capabilities, respectively. The bone-binding ability of Ald-PEG-PLGA NPs was investigated by hydroxyapatite binding assays and ex vivo imaging of adherence to bone fragments. In vivo biodistribution of fluorescently labeled NPs showed higher retention, accumulation, and bone homing of targeted Ald-PEG-PLGA NPs, compared with nontargeted PEG-PLGA NPs. A library of bortezomib-loaded NPs (bone-targeted Ald-Bort-NPs and nontargeted Bort-NPs) were developed and screened for optimal physiochemical properties, drug loading, and release profiles. Ald-Bort-NPs were tested for efficacy in mouse models of multiple myeloma (MM). Results demonstrated significantly enhanced survival and decreased tumor burden in mice pretreated with Ald-Bort-NPs versus Ald-Empty-NPs (no drug) or the free drug. We also observed that bortezomib, as a pretreatment regimen, modified the bone microenvironment and enhanced bone strength and volume. Our findings suggest that NP-based anticancer therapies with bone-targeting specificity comprise a clinically relevant method of drug delivery that can inhibit tumor progression in MM.
Keywords: alendronate-PLGA-PEG; bisphosphonate; bone metastasis; targeting nanomedicine.