Gastric cancer (GC) remains a major cause of death worldwide mainly because of the late detection in advanced stage. Recently, we proposed CD44v6 as a relevant marker for early detection of GC, opening new avenues for GC-targeted theranostics. Here, we designed a modular nanoscale system that selectively targets CD44v6-expressing GC cells by the site-oriented conjugation of a new-engineered CD44v6 half-antibody fragment to maleimide-modified polystyrene nanoparticles (PNPs) via an efficient bioorthogonal thiol-Michael addition click chemistry. PNPs with optimal particle size (200 nm) for crossing a developed biomimetic CD44v6-associated GC stromal model were further modified with a heterobifunctional maleimide crosslinker and click conjugated to the novel CD44v6 half-antibody fragment, obtained by chemical reduction of full antibody, without affecting its bioactivity. Collectively, our results confirmed the specific targeting ability of CD44v6-PNPs to CD44v6-expressing cells (1.65-fold higher than controls), highlighting the potential of CD44v6 half-antibody conjugated nanoparticles as promising and clinically relevant tools for the early diagnosis and therapy of GC. Additionally, the rational design of our nanoscale system may be explored for the development of several other nanotechnology-based disease-targeted approaches.
Keywords: CD44v6; bioconjugation; click chemistry; gastric cancer; half-antibody; nanoparticles; targeting.