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Surface-enhanced Raman scattering investigation of targeted delivery and controlled release of gemcitabine

Authors Santiago T, DeVaux RS, Kurzatkowska K, Espinal R, Herschkowitz JI, Hepel M

Received 16 August 2017

Accepted for publication 25 September 2017

Published 24 October 2017 Volume 2017:12 Pages 7763—7776


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Professor Carlos Rinaldi

Ty Santiago,1 Rebecca Sinnott DeVaux,2 Katarzyna Kurzatkowska,1 Ricardo Espinal,1 Jason I Herschkowitz,2 Maria Hepel1

1Department of Chemistry, State University of New York at Potsdam, Potsdam, 2Department of Biomedical Sciences, Cancer Research Center, University at Albany, State University of New York, Rensselaer, NY, USA

Abstract: Advanced and metastatic cancer forms are extremely difficult to treat and require high doses of chemotherapeutics, inadvertently affecting also healthy cells. As a result, the observed survival rates are very low. For instance, gemcitabine (GEM), one of the most effective chemotherapeutic drugs used for the treatment of breast and pancreatic cancers, sees only a 20% efficacy in penetrating cancer tissue, resulting in <5% survival rate in pancreatic cancer. Here, we present a method for delivering the drug that offers mitigation of side effects, as well as a targeted delivery and controlled release of the drug, improving its overall efficacy. By modifying the surface of gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) with covalently bonded thiol linkers, we have immobilized GEM on the nanoparticle (NP) through a pH-sensitive amide bond. This bond prevents the drug from being metabolized or acting on tissue at physiological pH 7.4, but breaks, releasing the drug at acidic pH, characteristic of cancer cells. Further functionalization of the NP with folic acid and/or transferrin (TF) offers a targeted delivery, as cancer cells overexpress folate and TF receptors, which can mediate the endocytosis of the NP carrying the drug. Thus, through the modification of AuNPs, we have been able to produce a nanocarrier containing GEM and folate/TF ligands, which is capable of targeted controlled-release delivery of the drug, reducing the side effects of the drug and increasing its efficacy. Here, we demonstrate the pH-dependent GEM release, using an ultrasensitive surface-enhanced Raman scattering spectroscopy to monitor the GEM loading onto the nanocarrier and follow its stimulated release. Further in vitro studies with model triple-negative breast cancer cell line MDA-MB-231 have corroborated the utility of the proposed nanocarrier method allowing the administration of high drug doses to targeted cancer cells.

Keywords: Raman spectroscopic nanocarrier testing, flow cytometry, breast cancer cells, doxorubicin, folate receptor targeting, transferrin

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