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Mol Cancer Ther. 2006 Dec;5(12):3170-80.

Chemosensitization of carcinoma cells using epithelial cell adhesion molecule-targeted liposomal antisense against bcl-2/bcl-xL.

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  • 1Department of Pharmacology, University of Bern, Friedb├╝hlstrasse 49, CH-3010 Bern, Switzerland.


Nanoscale drug delivery systems, such as sterically stabilized immunoliposomes binding to internalizing tumor-associated antigens, can increase therapeutic efficacy and reduce toxicity to normal tissues compared with nontargeted liposomes. The epithelial cell adhesion molecule (EpCAM) is of interest as a ligand for targeted drug delivery because it is abundantly expressed in solid tumors but shows limited distribution in normal tissues. To generate EpCAM-specific immunoliposomes for targeted cancer therapy, the humanized single-chain Fv antibody fragment 4D5MOCB was covalently linked to the exterior of coated cationic liposomes. As anticancer agent, we encapsulated the previously described antisense oligonucleotide 4625 specific for both bcl-2 and bcl-xL. The EpCAM-targeted immunoliposomes (SIL25) showed specific binding to EpCAM-overexpressing tumor cells, with a 10- to 20-fold increase in binding compared with nontargeted control liposomes. No enhanced binding was observed on EpCAM-negative control cells. On cell binding, SIL25 was efficiently internalized by receptor-mediated endocytosis, ultimately leading to down-regulation of both bcl-2 and bcl-xL expression on both the mRNA and protein level, which resulted in enhanced tumor cell apoptosis. In combination experiments, the use of SIL25 led to a 2- to 5-fold sensitization of EpCAM-positive tumor cells of diverse origin to death induction by doxorubicin. Our data show the promise of EpCAM-specific drug delivery systems, such as antisense-loaded immunoliposomes, for targeted cancer therapy.

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