Carrier-Free, Amorphous Verteporfin Nanodrug for Enhanced Photodynamic Cancer Therapy and Brain Drug Delivery

Published in: Advanced Science

Authors: John A. QuinlanCollin T. InglutPayal SrivastavaIdrisa RahmanJillian StabileBrandon GaitanCarla Arnau Del ValleKaylin BaumillerAnandita GaurWen-An ChiouBaktiar KarimNina ConnollyRobert W. RobeyGraeme F. WoodworthMichael M. GottesmanHuang-Chiao Huang

University of Maryland

Glioblastoma (GBM) is hard to treat due to cellular invasion into functioning brain tissues, limited drug delivery, and evolved treatment resistance. Recurrence is nearly universal even after surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. Photodynamic therapy (PDT) involves photosensitizer administration followed by light activation to generate reactive oxygen species at tumor sites, thereby killing cells or inducing biological changes. PDT can ablate unresectable GBM and sensitize tumors to chemotherapy. Verteporfin (VP) is a promising photosensitizer that relies on liposomal carriers for clinical use. While lipids increase VP’s solubility, they also reduce intracellular photosensitizer accumulation. Here, a pure-drug nanoformulation of VP, termed “NanoVP”, eliminating the need for lipids, excipients, or stabilizers is reported. NanoVP has a tunable size (65–150 nm) and 1500-fold higher photosensitizer loading capacity than liposomal VP. NanoVP shows a 2-fold increase in photosensitizer uptake and superior PDT efficacy in GBM cells compared to liposomal VP. In mouse models, NanoVP-PDT improved tumor control and extended animal survival, outperforming liposomal VP and 5-aminolevulinic acid (5-ALA). Moreover, low-dose NanoVP-PDT can safely open the blood-brain barrier, increasing drug accumulation in rat brains by 5.5-fold compared to 5-ALA. NanoVP is a new photosensitizer formulation that has the potential to facilitate PDT for the treatment of GBM. ML6000 series laser together with automated laser calibration system MLACAL was used for therapeutic activation of nanoVP as well as for opening the blood-brain-barrier for drug delivery.


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