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Verteporfin-Loaded Anisotropic Poly(Beta-Amino Ester)-Based Micelles Demonstrate Brain Cancer-Selective Cytotoxicity and Enhanced Pharmacokinetics

Authors Shamul JG, Shah SR, Kim J, Schiapparelli P, Vazquez-Ramos CA, Lee BJ, Patel KK, Shin A, Quinones-Hinojosa A, Green JJ

Received 16 September 2019

Accepted for publication 13 November 2019

Published 23 December 2019 Volume 2019:14 Pages 10047—10060


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Prof. Dr. Thomas J. Webster

James G Shamul,1,2,* Sagar R Shah,1–3,* Jayoung Kim,1,2 Paula Schiapparelli,3 Carla A Vazquez-Ramos,3 Ben J Lee,1,2 Kisha K Patel,1,2 Alyssa Shin,1,2 Alfredo Quinones-Hinojosa,3 Jordan J Green1,2,4–6

1Department of Biomedical Engineering, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD 21231, USA; 2Translational Tissue Engineering Center and Institute for NanoBioTechnology, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD 21231, USA; 3Department of Neurosurgery, Mayo Clinic, Jacksonville, FL 32224, USA; 4Department of Neurosurgery, Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, MD 21231, USA; 5Department of Oncology, The Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer, and The Bloomberg∼Kimmel Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD 21231, USA; 6Department of Ophthalmology, Department of Materials Science and Engineering, and Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD 21231, USA

*These authors contributed equally to this work

Correspondence: Alfredo Quinones-Hinojosa; Jordan J Green Email [email protected]; [email protected]

Background: Nanomedicine can improve traditional therapies by enhancing the controlled release of drugs at targeted tissues in the body. However, there still exists disease- and therapy-specific barriers that limit the efficacy of such treatments. A major challenge in developing effective therapies for one of the most aggressive brain tumors, glioblastoma (GBM), is affecting brain cancer cells while avoiding damage to the surrounding healthy brain parenchyma. Here, we developed poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG)-poly(beta-amino ester) (PBAE) (PEG-PBAE)-based micelles encapsulating verteporfin (VP) to increase tumor-specific targeting.
Methods: Biodegradable, pH-sensitive micelles of different shapes were synthesized via nanoprecipitation using two different triblock PEG-PBAE-PEG copolymers varying in their relative hydrophobicity. The anti-tumor efficacy of verteporfin loaded in these anisotropic and spherical micelles was evaluated in vitro using patient-derived primary GBM cells.
Results: For anisotropic micelles, uptake efficiency was ∼100% in GBM cells (GBM1A and JHGBM612) while only 46% in normal human astrocytes (NHA) at 15.6 nM VP (p ≤ 0.0001). Cell killing of GBM1A and JHGBM612 vs NHA was 52% and 77% vs 29%, respectively, at 24 hrs post-treatment of 125 nM VP-encapsulated in anisotropic micelles (p ≤ 0.0001), demonstrating the tumor cell-specific selectivity of VP. Moreover, anisotropic micelles showed an approximately fivefold longer half-life in blood circulation than the analogous spherical micelles in a GBM xenograft model in mice. In this model, micelle accumulation to tumors was significantly greater for anisotropic micelle-treated mice compared to spherical micelle-treated mice at both 8 hrs (∼1.8-fold greater, p ≤ 0.001) and 24 hrs (∼2.1-fold greater, p ≤ 0.0001).
Conclusion: Overall, this work highlights the promise of a biodegradable anisotropic micelle system to overcome multiple drug delivery challenges and enhance efficacy and safety for the treatment of brain cancer.

Keywords: GBM, verteporfin, micelle, anisotropic, poly(ethylene glycol), PEG, poly(beta-amino ester), PBAE

Creative Commons License This work is published by Dove Medical Press Limited, and licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License. The full terms of the License are available at The license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

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