The highly tunable, noninvasive and spatially targeted nature of microbubble-enhanced, ultrasound-guided (MB+US) drug delivery makes it desirable for a wide variety of therapies. In breast cancer, both HER2+ and HER2- type neoplasms pose significant challenges to conventional therapeutics in greater than 40% of breast cancer patients, even with the widespread application of biologics such as trastuzumab. To address this therapeutic challenge, we examined the novel combination of tumor-injected microbubble-bound siRNA complexes and monodisperse size-isolated microbubbles (4-µm diameter) to attenuate tumor growth in vivo, as well as MB+US-facilitated shRNA and siRNA knockdown of ESE-1, an effector linked to dysregulated HER2 expression in HER2+/- cell line propagation. We first screened six variants of siESE and shESE for efficient knockdown of ESE in breast cancer cell lines. We demonstrated efficient reduction of BT-474 (PR+, ER+, HER2+; luminal B) and MDA-MB-468 (PR-, ER-, HER2-; triple-negative) clonogenicity and non-adherent growth after knockdown of ESE-1. A significant reduction in proliferative potential was seen for both cell lines using MB+US to deliver shESE and siESE. We then demonstrated significant attenuation of BT-474 xenograft tumor growth in Nod/SCID female mice using direct injection of microbubble-adsorbed siESE to the tumor and subsequent sonication. Our results suggest a positive effect on drug delivery from MB+US, and highlights the feasibility of using RNAi and MB+US for breast cancer pathologies. RNAi coupled with MB+US may also be an effective theranostic approach to treat other acoustically accessible tumors, such as melanoma, thyroid, parotid and skin cancer.
Keywords: ESE-1; gene therapy; microbubbles; theranostics; ultrasound contrast agent.