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Biomaterials. 2012 Feb;33(6):1863-72. doi: 10.1016/j.biomaterials.2011.11.029. Epub 2011 Dec 3.

Selective inhibitory effect of HPMA copolymer-cyclopamine conjugate on prostate cancer stem cells.

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  • 1Department of Pharmaceutics and Pharmaceutical Chemistry, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT 84112, USA.


Improved treatments for prostate cancer are in great need to overcome lethal recurrence and metastasis. Targeting the tumorigenic cancer stem cells (CSCs) with self-renewal and differentiation capacity appears to be a promising strategy. Blockade of the hedgehog (Hh) signaling pathway, an important pathway involved in stem cell self-renewal, by cyclopamine leads to long-term prostate cancer regression without recurrence, strongly suggesting the connection between Hh pathway and prostate CSCs. Here we designed an HPMA (N-(2-hydroxypropyl)methacrylamide)-based cyclopamine delivery system as a CSC-selective macromolecular therapeutics with improved drug solubility and decreased systemic toxicity. To this end, HPMA and N-methacryloylglycylphenylalanylleucylglycyl thiazolidine-2-thione were copolymerized using the RAFT (reversible addition-fragmentation chain transfer) process, followed by polymer-analogous attachment of cyclopamine. The selectivity of the conjugate toward CSCs was evaluated on RC-92a/hTERT cells, the human prostate cancer epithelial cells with human telomerase reverse transcriptase transduction. The use of RC-92a/hTERT cells as an in vitro CSC model was validated by stem cell marker expression and prostasphere culture. The bioactivity of cyclopamine was retained after conjugation to the polymer. Furthermore, HPMA polymer-conjugated cyclopamine showed anti-CSC efficacy on RC-92a/hTERT cells as evaluated by decreased stem cell marker expression and CSC viability.

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