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Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDA) remains the most aggressive cancers with a 5-year survival below 10%. Systemic delivery of chemotherapy drugs has severe side effects in patients with PDA and does not significantly improve overall survival rate. It is highly desirable to advance the therapeutic efficacy of chemotherapeutic drugs by targeting their delivery and increasing accumulation at the tumor site. MUC1 is a membrane-tethered glycoprotein that is aberrantly overexpressed in > 80% of PDA thus making it an attractive antigenic target.
Poly lactic-co-glycolic acid nanoparticles (PLGA NPs) conjugated to a tumor specific MUC1 antibody, TAB004, was used as a nanocarrier for targeted delivery into human PDA cell lines in vitro and in PDA tumors in vivo. The PLGA NPs were loaded with fluorescent imaging agents, fluorescein diacetate (FDA) and Nile Red (NR) or isocyanine green (ICG) for in vitro and in vivo imaging respectively or with a chemotherapeutic drug, paclitaxel (PTX) for in vitro cytotoxicity assays. Confocal microscopy was used to visualize internalization of the nanocarrier in vitro in PDA cells with high and low MUC1 expression. The in vivo imaging system (IVIS) was used to visualize in vivo tumor targeting of the nanocarrier. MTT (3-(4,5-Dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-Diphenyltetrazolium Bromide) assay was used to determine in vitro cell survival of cells treated with PTX-loaded nanocarrier. One-sided t-test comparing treatment groups at each concentration and two-way ANOVAs comparing internalization of antibody and PLGA nanoparticles.
In vitro, TAB004-conjugated ICG-nanocarriers were significantly better at internalizing in PDA cells than its non-conjugated counterpart. Similarly, TAB004-conjugated PTX-nanocarriers were significantly more cytotoxic in vitro against PDA cells than its non-conjugated counterpart. In vivo, TAB004-conjugated ICG-nanocarriers showed increased accumulation in the PDA tumor compared to the non-conjugated nanocarrier while sparing normal organs.
The study provides promising data for future development of a novel MUC1-targeted nanocarrier for direct delivery of imaging agents or drugs into the tumor microenvironment.