An effective tumoral delivery system should show minimal removal by the reticuloendothelial system (RES), promote tumor uptake and penetration, and minimize on-site clearance. This study reports the design and synthesis of advanced self-assembling peptide nanofiber precursor (NFP) analogues. The peptidic nature of NFP offers the design flexibility for on-demand customization with imaging agents and surface charges while maintaining a set size, allowing for real-time monitoring of kinetic and dynamic tumoral delivery by multimodal fluorescence/positron emission tomography/computed tomography (fluo/PET/CT) imaging, for formulation optimization. The optimized glutathione (GSH)-NFP displays a reduced capture by the RES as well as excellent tumor targeting and tissue invasion properties compared to naive NFP. Inside a tumor, GSH-NFP can structurally transform into ten times larger interfibril networks, serving as in situ depot that promotes weeks-long local retention. This nanofiber, which can further be designed to release the active pharmacophores within a tumor microenvironment, displays a superior therapeutic efficacy for inhibiting disease progression and improving the survival of animals bearing triple-negative breast cancer tumors compared to free drug and liposome formulation of the drug, in addition to a favorable toxicity profile.
Keywords: doxorubicin; interfibril network; peptide nanofibers; retention; triple negative breast cancer; tumoral uptake.