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Clin Cancer Res. 2006 Nov 15;12(22):6677-86.

Vascular targeted nanoparticles for imaging and treatment of brain tumors.

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  • 1Molecular Therapeutics, Inc., Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA.



Development of new therapeutic drug delivery systems is an area of significant research interest. The ability to directly target a therapeutic agent to a tumor site would minimize systemic drug exposure, thus providing the potential for increasing the therapeutic index.


Photodynamic therapy (PDT) involves the uptake of a sensitizer by the cancer cells followed by photoirradiation to activate the sensitizer. PDT using Photofrin has certain disadvantages that include prolonged cutaneous photosensitization. Delivery of nanoparticles encapsulated with photodynamic agent specifically to a tumor site could potentially overcome the drawbacks of systemic therapy. In this study, we have developed a multifunctional polymeric nanoparticle consisting of a surface-localized tumor vasculature targeting F3 peptide and encapsulated PDT and imaging agents.


The nanoparticles specifically bound to the surface of MDA-435 cells in vitro and were internalized conferring photosensitivity to the cells. Significant magnetic resonance imaging contrast enhancement was achieved in i.c. rat 9L gliomas following i.v. nanoparticle administration. Serial magnetic resonance imaging was used for determination of pharmacokinetics and distribution of nanoparticles within the tumor. Treatment of glioma-bearing rats with targeted nanoparticles followed by PDT showed a significant improvement in survival rate when compared with animals who received PDT after administration of nontargeted nanoparticles or systemic Photofrin.


This study reveals the versatility and efficacy of the multifunctional nanoparticle for the targeted detection and treatment of cancer.

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