Peptide-Targeted Gold Nanoparticles for Photodynamic Therapy of Brain Cancer

Part Part Syst Charact. 2015 Apr;32(4):448-457. doi: 10.1002/ppsc.201400119.


Targeted drug delivery using epidermal growth factor peptide-targeted gold nanoparticles (EGFpep-Au NPs) is investigated as a novel approach for delivery of photodynamic therapy (PDT) agents, specifically Pc 4, to cancer. In vitro studies of PDT show that EGFpep-Au NP-Pc 4 is twofold better at killing tumor cells than free Pc 4 after increasing localization in early endosomes. In vivo studies show that targeting with EGFpep-Au NP-Pc 4 improves accumulation of fluorescence of Pc 4 in subcutaneous tumors by greater than threefold compared with untargeted Au NPs. Targeted drug delivery and treatment success can be imaged via the intrinsic fluorescence of the PDT drug Pc 4. Using Pc 4 fluorescence, it is demonstrated in vivo that EGFpep-Au NP-Pc 4 impacts biodistribution of the NPs by decreasing the initial uptake by the reticuloendothelial system (RES) and by increasing the amount of Au NPs circulating in the blood 4 h after IV injection. Interestingly, in vivo PDT with EGFpep-Au NP-Pc 4 results in interrupted tumor growth when compared with EGFpep-Au NP control mice when selectively activated with light. These data demonstrate that EGFpep-Au NP-Pc 4 utilizes cancer-specific biomarkers to improve drug delivery and therapeutic efficacy over untargeted drug delivery.