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Curr Pharm Des. 2013;19(37):6594-605.

Design and in vitro validation of multivalent dendrimer methotrexates as a folate-targeting anticancer therapeutic.

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  • 1Department of Internal Medicine, Michigan Nanotechnology Institute for Medicine and Biological Sciences, USA.


Design of cancer-targeting nanotherapeutics relies on a pair of two functionally orthogonal molecules, one serving as a cancer cell-specific targeting ligand, and the other as a therapeutic cytotoxic agent. The present study investigates the validity of an alternative simplified strategy where a dual-acting molecule which bears both targeting and cytotoxic activity is conjugated to the nanoparticle as cancer-targeting nanotherapeutics. Herein, we demonstrate that methotrexate is applicable for this dual-acting strategy due to its reasonable affinity to folic acid receptor (FAR) as a tumor biomarker, and cytotoxic inhibitory activity of cytosolic dihydrofolate reductase. This article describes design of new methotrexate-conjugated poly(amidoamine) (PAMAM) dendrimers, each carrying multiple copies of methotrexate attached through a stable amide linker. We evaluated their dual biological activities by performing surface plasmon resonance spectroscopy, a cell-free enzyme assay and cell-based experiments in FAR-overexpressing cells. This study identifies the combination of an optimal linker framework and multivalency as the two key design elements that contribute to achieving potent dual activity.

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