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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2013 Nov 19;110(47):19048-53. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1315336110. Epub 2013 Nov 4.

Photoswitchable nanoparticles for in vivo cancer chemotherapy.

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Laboratory for Biomaterials and Drug Delivery, Department of Anesthesiology, Division of Critical Care Medicine, Boston Children's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115.


There are many obstacles to effective cancer chemotherapy, including drug penetration and accumulation in tumors and drug systemic toxicity. The penetration of therapies into tumors is limited by the dense tumor matrix and by compression of the tumor vasculature. We have developed spiropyran-based nanoparticles that shrink from 103 to 49 nm upon irradiation at 365 nm. That shrinkage enhanced tissue penetration and drug release. Irradiation of s.c. HT-1080 tumors in nude mice administered i.v. docetaxel-containing nanoparticles was more effective treatment than free docetaxel or encapsulated docetaxel without irradiation. Irradiation at the tumor site also resulted in less systemic toxicity than if the nanoparticles were irradiated before injection, presumably because of less systemically distributed free drug. The enhanced efficacy of nanoparticles in irradiated tumors may have been related to the observed enhanced tumor penetration by nanoparticles and decompression of tumor blood vessels, which may also increase nanoparticle delivery into tumors.


nanomedicine; photoswitching; triggered drug delivery

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