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J Control Release. 2003 Aug 28;91(1-2):61-73.

Molecular targeting of drug delivery systems to ovarian cancer by BH3 and LHRH peptides.

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Department of Pharmaceutics, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, 160 Frelinghuysen Road, Piscataway, NJ 08854-8020, USA.


Novel targeted proapoptotic anticancer drug delivery systems were developed and evaluated. Poly(ethyleneglycol) (PEG) conjugates were used as carriers. Camptothecin (CPT) was used as an anticancer agent-apoptosis inductor. Two types of molecular targets were investigated: (1) an extracellular membrane receptor specific to ovarian cancer and (2) intracellular controlling mechanisms of apoptosis. Synthetic peptides similar to luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone (LHRH) and BCL-2 homology 3 (BH3) peptide were used as a targeting moiety and a suppressor of cellular antiapoptotic defense, respectively. Three different conjugates (CPT-PEG, CPT-PEG-BH3 and CPT-PEG-LHRH) were synthesized and examined in A2780 human ovarian cancer cells. Cytotoxicity, expression of genes encoding BCL-2, BCL-XL, SMAC, APAF-1 proteins and caspases 3 and 9, the activity of caspases 3 and 9 and apoptosis induction were studied. Taken together the results indicate much higher cytotoxicity and apoptosis-inducing activity of PEG-CPT conjugates when compared to free CPT. Moreover, the effects of targeted CPT-PEG-BH3 and CPT-PEG-LHRH conjugates were more pronounced than the non-targeted PEG-CPT conjugate. The results confirmed the feasibility of this new two-tier molecular targeting strategy for enhancing the efficacy of cancer chemotherapy.

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