A cell-targeted photodynamic nanomedicine strategy for head and neck cancers.

Research paper by Alyssa A Master, Anthony A Malamas, Rachna R Solanki, Dana M DM Clausen, Julie L JL Eiseman, Anirban A Sen Gupta

Indexed on: 28 Mar '13Published on: 28 Mar '13Published in: Molecular Pharmaceutics


Photodynamic therapy (PDT) holds great promise for the treatment of head and neck (H&N) carcinomas where repeated loco-regional therapy often becomes necessary due to the highly aggressive and recurrent nature of the cancers. While interstitial light delivery technologies are being refined for PDT of H&N and other cancers, a parallel clinically relevant research area is the formulation of photosensitizers in nanovehicles that allow systemic administration yet preferential enhanced uptake in the tumor. This approach can render dual-selectivity of PDT, by harnessing both the drug and the light delivery within the tumor. To this end, we report on a cell-targeted nanomedicine approach for the photosensitizer silicon phthalocyanine-4 (Pc 4), by packaging it within polymeric micelles that are surface-decorated with GE11-peptides to promote enhanced cell-selective binding and receptor-mediated internalization in EGFR-overexpressing H&N cancer cells. Using fluorescence spectroscopy and confocal microscopy, we demonstrate in vitro that the EGFR-targeted Pc 4-nanoformulation undergoes faster and higher uptake in EGFR-overexpressing H&N SCC-15 cells. We further demonstrate that this enhanced Pc 4 uptake results in significant cell-killing and drastically reduced post-PDT clonogenicity. Building on this in vitro data, we demonstrate that the EGFR-targeted Pc 4-nanoformulation results in significant intratumoral drug uptake and subsequent enhanced PDT response, in vivo, in SCC-15 xenografts in mice. Altogether our results show significant promise toward a cell-targeted photodynamic nanomedicine for effective treatment of H&N carcinomas.